1 Kings 3-5
Solomon Asks for Wisdom
3 Solomon made a peace treaty with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, by marrying his daughter. Solomon brought her to the City of David. This was when Solomon was still building his palace, the Temple of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem. 2 The Temple to honor the Lord had not yet been finished, so people were still making animal sacrifices on altars at the high places. 3 Solomon showed that he loved the Lord by obeying everything his father David told him to do, except that Solomon continued to go to the high places to offer sacrifices and to burn incense.
4 King Solomon went to Gibeon to offer a sacrifice because that was the most important high place. He offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 While Solomon was at Gibeon, the Lord came to him at night in a dream. God said, “Solomon, ask me what you want me to give you.”
6 Solomon answered, “You were very kind and loyal to your servant, my father David. He was faithful to you and lived a good, honest life. And you showed him the greatest kindness when you let his son take his place as king. 7 Lord my God, you have made me the king in my father’s place, but I am like a small child. I don’t have the wisdom I need to do what I must do. 8 I am your servant here among your chosen people. There are so many that they cannot be counted. 9 So I ask you to give me the wisdom to rule and judge them well and to help me know the difference between right and wrong. Without such great wisdom, it would be impossible to rule this great nation.”
10 The Lord was happy that Solomon asked for wisdom. 11 So God said to him, “You did not ask for long life and riches for yourself. You did not ask for the death of your enemies. You asked for the wisdom to listen and make the right decisions. 12 So I will give you what you asked for. I will make you wise and intelligent. I will make you wiser than anyone who ever lived or ever will live. 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for. You will have riches and honor all your life. There will be no other king in the world as great as you. 14 And I will give you a long life if you follow me and obey my laws and commands as your father David did.”
15 Solomon woke up and knew that God had spoken to him in the dream. Then Solomon went to Jerusalem and stood before the Box of the Lord’s Agreement. He offered a burnt offering and fellowship offerings to the Lord and then gave a party for all of his officials.
Proof of Solomon’s Wisdom
16 One day two prostitutes came to Solomon and stood before the king. 17 One of the women said, “Sir, this woman and I live in the same house. We were both pregnant and ready to give birth to our babies. I had my baby while she was there with me. 18 Three days later she also gave birth to her baby. There was no one else in the house with us, just the two of us. 19 One night while this woman was asleep with her baby, the baby died. 20 That night while I was asleep, she took my son from my bed and carried him to her bed. Then she put the dead baby in my bed. 21 In the morning I woke up and was about to feed the baby when I saw he was dead. When I looked at him more closely, I saw that he was not my baby.”
22 But the other woman said, “No! The dead baby is yours, and the one still alive is mine!”
But the first woman said, “No, you are wrong! The dead baby is yours! The one that is still alive is mine.” So the two women argued in front of the king.
23 Then King Solomon said, “Each of you says that the living baby is your own and that the dead baby belongs to the other woman.” 24 Then King Solomon sent his servant to get a sword. 25 He told the servant, “Cut the living baby in two and give one half of the baby to each woman.”
26 The second woman said, “Yes, cut him in two. Then neither of us will have him.” But the first woman, the real mother, loved her son and said to the king, “Please, sir, don’t kill the baby! Give him to her.”
27 Then King Solomon said, “Stop, don’t kill the baby. Give him to this woman. She is the real mother.”
28 The people of Israel respected the king when they heard about this decision. They saw he had the wisdom of God[a] to make the right decisions.
4 King Solomon ruled over all Israel. 2 These are the names of his leading officials:
Azariah son of Zadok was the priest;
3 Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha, had the job of writing notes about what happened in the courts;
Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud wrote notes about the history of the people;
4 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was the commander of the army;
Zadok and Abiathar were priests;
5 Azariah son of Nathan was in charge of the district governors;
Zabud son of Nathan was a priest and an advisor to King Solomon;
6 Ahishar was responsible for everything in the king’s palace;
Adoniram son of Abda was in charge of the slaves.
7 Israel was divided into twelve districts. Solomon chose governors to rule over each district. These governors were ordered to gather food from their districts and give it to the king and his family. Each of the twelve governors was responsible for giving food to the king one month each year. 8 These are the names of the twelve governors:
Ben Hur was governor of the hill country of Ephraim.
9 Ben Deker was governor of Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh, and Elon Bethhanan.
10 Ben Hesed was governor of Arubboth, Socoh, and Hepher.
11 Ben Abinadab was governor of Naphoth Dor. He was married to Taphath, daughter of Solomon.
12 Baana son of Ahilud was governor of Taanach and Megiddo and all of Beth Shean next to Zarethan. This was below Jezreel, from Beth Shean to Abel Meholah across from Jokmeam.
13 Ben Geber was governor of Ramoth Gilead. He was governor of all the towns and villages of Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead. He was also governor of the district of Argob in Bashan. In this area there were 60 cities with big walls around them. These cities also had bronze bars on the gates.
14 Ahinadab son of Iddo was governor of Mahanaim.
15 Ahimaaz was governor of Naphtali. He was married to Basemath the daughter of Solomon.
16 Baana son of Hushai was governor of Asher and Aloth.
17 Jehoshaphat son of Paruah was governor of Issachar.
18 Shimei son of Ela was governor of Benjamin.
19 Geber son of Uri was governor of Gilead. There had been two kings in this area, King Sihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan, but Solomon appointed only one governor for that district.
20 In Judah and Israel there were as many people as sand on the seashore. The people were happy and had plenty to eat and drink.
21 Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines. His kingdom went as far as the border of Egypt. These countries sent gifts to Solomon, and they obeyed him all of his life.[b]
22-23 This is the amount of food that Solomon needed each day for himself and for everyone who ate at his table: 150 bushels[c] of fine flour, 300 bushels[d] of flour, 10 cattle that were fed grain, 20 cattle that were raised in the fields, 100 sheep, wild animals such as deer, gazelles, roebucks,[e] and game birds.
24 Solomon ruled over all the countries west of the Euphrates River, from Tiphsah to Gaza. And Solomon had peace along all the borders of his kingdom. 25 During Solomon’s life everyone in Judah and Israel, all the way from Dan to Beersheba, lived in peace and security. The people were at peace sitting under their own fig trees and grapevines.
26 Solomon had places to keep 4000[f] horses for his chariots and he had 12,000 horse soldiers. 27 And each month one of the twelve district governors gave King Solomon everything he needed for all the people who ate at the king’s table. 28 The district governors also gave the king enough straw and barley for the chariot horses and the riding horses. Everyone brought this grain to the necessary places.
29 God made Solomon very wise. Solomon could understand more than you can imagine. 30 He was wiser than anyone in the East[g] or in Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone on earth, even Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol—Heman, Calcol, and Darda. King Solomon became famous in all the surrounding countries. 32 By the end of his life, he had written[h] 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs.
33 Solomon also knew very much about nature. He taught about many different kinds of plants—everything from the great cedar trees of Lebanon to the little vines that grow out of the walls. He also taught about animals, birds, and snakes.[i] 34 People from every nation came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom. Kings all over the world sent their people to listen to him.
Solomon and Hiram
5 Hiram was the king of Tyre. He had always been David’s friend. So when Hiram heard that Solomon had become the new king after David, he sent his servants to Solomon. 2 This is what Solomon said to King Hiram:
3 “You remember that my father, King David, had to fight many wars all around him. So he was never able to build a temple to honor the Lord his God. King David was waiting until the Lord allowed him to defeat all his enemies. 4 But now the Lord my God has given me peace along all the borders of my country. I have no enemies, and my people are in no danger.
5 “The Lord made a promise to my father David. He said, ‘I will make your son king after you, and he will build a temple to honor me.’ Now, I plan to build that temple to honor the Lord my God. 6 And so I ask you to help me. Send your men to Lebanon to cut down cedar trees for me. My servants will work with yours. I will pay you any price that you decide as your servants’ wages, but I need your help. Our carpenters[j] are not as good as the carpenters of Sidon.”
7 Hiram was very happy when he heard what Solomon asked. He said, “I praise the Lord today for giving David a wise son to rule this great nation!” 8 Then Hiram sent this message to Solomon:
“I heard what you asked for. I will give you all the cedar trees and the fir trees you want. 9 My servants will bring them down from Lebanon to the sea. Then I will tie them together and float them down the shore to the place you choose. There I will separate the logs, and you can take them from there. As payment for this, you will give food to all those who live in my palace.”
10 So Hiram gave Solomon all the cedar and fir logs that he wanted.
12 The Lord made Solomon wise as he had promised. Hiram and Solomon made a treaty between themselves and were at peace with one another.
13 King Solomon forced 30,000 men of Israel to help in this work. 14 He chose a man named Adoniram to be in charge of them. Solomon divided the men into three groups with 10,000 men in each group. Each group worked one month in Lebanon and then went home for two months. 15 Solomon also forced 80,000 men to work in the hill country cutting stone. There were also 70,000 men to carry the stones. 16 There were 3300 men to supervise the workers. 17 King Solomon commanded them to cut large, expensive stones for the foundation of the Temple. 18 Then Solomon and Hiram’s builders and the men from Byblos[m] carved the stones and prepared them and the logs for use in building the Temple.
- 1 Kings 3:28 the wisdom of God Or “very great wisdom.”
- 1 Kings 4:21 sent gifts … life This showed that these countries had made peace agreements with Solomon because of his great power.
- 1 Kings 4:22 150 bushels Literally, “30 cors” (6600 l).
- 1 Kings 4:22 300 bushels Literally, “60 cors” (13,200 l).
- 1 Kings 4:22 deer, gazelles, roebucks Different kinds of wild deer.
- 1 Kings 4:26 4000 This is found in some copies of the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text has 40,000, but see 2 Chron. 9:25.
- 1 Kings 4:30 East The area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers as far east as the Persian Gulf.
- 1 Kings 4:32 written Literally, “spoken.”
- 1 Kings 4:33 snakes Literally, “creeping things.” These can be anything: insects, lizards, snakes, or fish.
- 1 Kings 5:6 carpenters People who work with wood. In ancient times, this also meant that they cut the trees.
- 1 Kings 5:11 120,000 bushels Literally, “20,000 cors” (4,400,000 l).
- 1 Kings 5:11 120,000 gallons Literally, “20,000 baths” (440,000 l).
- 1 Kings 5:18 Byblos Literally, “Gebal.”