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The Lord Makes Solomon Wise

Solomon signed a treaty with the king of Egypt and married his daughter. She lived in the older part of Jerusalem[a] until the palace, the Lord’s temple, and the wall around Jerusalem were completed.

At that time, there was no temple for worshiping the Lord, and everyone offered sacrifices at the local shrines.[b] Solomon loved the Lord and followed his father David’s instructions, but Solomon also offered sacrifices and burned incense at the shrines.

The most important shrine was in Gibeon, and Solomon had offered more than a thousand sacrifices on that altar.

One night while Solomon was in Gibeon, the Lord God appeared to him in a dream and said, “Solomon, ask for anything you want, and I will give it to you.”

Solomon answered:

My father David, your servant, was honest and did what you commanded. You were always loyal to him, and you gave him a son who is now king. Lord God, I’m your servant, and you’ve made me king in my father’s place. But I’m very young and know so little about being a leader. And now I must rule your chosen people, even though there are too many of them to count.

Please make me wise and teach me the difference between right and wrong. Then I will know how to rule your people. If you don’t, there is no way I could rule this great nation of yours.

10-11 God said:

Solomon, I’m pleased that you asked for this. You could have asked to live a long time or to be rich. Or you could have asked for your enemies to be destroyed. Instead, you asked for wisdom to make right decisions. 12 So I’ll make you wiser than anyone who has ever lived or ever will live.

13 I’ll also give you what you didn’t ask for. You’ll be rich and respected as long as you live, and you’ll be greater than any other king. 14 If you obey me and follow my commands, as your father David did, I’ll let you live a long time.

15 Solomon woke up and realized that God had spoken to him in the dream. He went back to Jerusalem and stood in front of the sacred chest, where he offered sacrifices to please the Lord[c] and sacrifices to ask his blessing.[d] Then Solomon gave a feast for his officials.

Solomon Makes a Difficult Decision

16 One day two women[e] came to King Solomon, 17 and one of them said:

Your Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house. Not long ago my baby was born at home, 18 and three days later her baby was born. Nobody else was there with us.

19 One night while we were all asleep, she rolled over on her baby, and he died. 20 Then while I was still asleep, she got up and took my son out of my bed. She put him in her bed, then she put her dead baby next to me.

21 In the morning when I got up to feed my son, I saw that he was dead. But when I looked at him in the light, I knew he wasn’t my son.

22 “No!” the other woman shouted. “He was your son. My baby is alive!”

“The dead baby is yours,” the first woman yelled. “Mine is alive!”

They argued back and forth in front of Solomon, 23 until finally he said, “Both of you say this live baby is yours. 24 Someone bring me a sword.”

A sword was brought, and Solomon ordered, 25 “Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him.”

26 “Please don’t kill my son,” the baby’s mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.”

The other woman shouted, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.”

27 Solomon said, “Don’t kill the baby.” Then he pointed to the first woman, “She is his real mother. Give the baby to her.”

28 Everyone in Israel was amazed when they heard how Solomon had made his decision. They realized that God had given him wisdom to judge fairly.

Solomon’s Officials

1-6 Here is a list of Solomon’s highest officials while he was king of Israel:

Azariah son of Zadok was the priest;
Elihoreph and Ahijah sons of Shisha were the secretaries;
Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud kept the government records;
Benaiah son of Jehoiada was the army commander;
Zadok and Abiathar were priests;
Azariah son of Nathan was in charge of the regional officers;
Zabud son of Nathan was a priest and the king’s advisor;
Ahishar was the prime minister;
Adoniram son of Abda was in charge of the forced labor.

Solomon chose twelve regional officers, who took turns bringing food for him and his household. Each officer provided food from his region for one month of the year. These were the twelve officers:

The son of Hur was in charge of the hill country of Ephraim.

The son of Deker was in charge of the towns of Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth-Shemesh, and Elon-Beth-Hanan.

10 The son of Hesed was in charge of the towns of Arubboth and Socoh, and the region of Hepher.

11 The son of Abinadab was in charge of Naphath-Dor and was married to Solomon’s daughter Taphath.

12 Baana son of Ahilud was in charge of the towns of Taanach and Megiddo. He was also in charge of the whole region of Beth-Shan near the town of Zarethan, south of Jezreel from Beth-Shan to Abel-Meholah to the other side of Jokmeam.

13 The son of Geber was in charge of the town of Ramoth in Gilead and the villages in Gilead belonging to the family of Jair, a descendant of Manasseh. He was also in charge of the region of Argob in Bashan, which had sixty walled towns with bronze bars on their gates.

14 Ahinadab son of Iddo was in charge of the territory of Mahanaim.

15 Ahimaaz was in charge of the territory of Naphtali and was married to Solomon’s daughter Basemath.

16 Baana son of Hushai was in charge of the territory of Asher and the town of Bealoth.

17 Jehoshaphat son of Paruah was in charge of the territory of Issachar.

18 Shimei son of Ela was in charge of the territory of Benjamin.

19 Geber son of Uri was in charge of Gilead, where King Sihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan had lived.

And one officer was in charge of the territory of Judah.[f]

The Size of Solomon’s Kingdom

20 There were so many people living in Judah and Israel while Solomon was king that they seemed like grains of sand on a beach. Everyone had enough to eat and drink, and they were happy.

21 Solomon ruled every kingdom between the Euphrates River and the land of the Philistines down to Egypt. These kingdoms paid him taxes as long as he lived.

22 Every day, Solomon needed one hundred fifty bushels of fine flour, three hundred bushels of coarsely-ground flour, 23 ten grain-fed cattle, twenty pasture-fed cattle, one hundred sheep, as well as deer, gazelles, and geese.

24 Solomon ruled the whole region west of the Euphrates River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and he was at peace with all of the countries around him. 25 Everyone living in Israel, from the town of Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, was safe as long as Solomon lived. Each family sat undisturbed beneath its own grape vines and fig trees.

26 Solomon had forty thousand stalls of chariot horses and twelve thousand chariot soldiers.

27 Each of the twelve regional officers brought food to Solomon and his household for one month of the year. They provided everything he needed, 28 as well as barley and straw for the horses.

Solomon’s Wisdom

29 Solomon was brilliant. God had blessed him with insight and understanding. 30-31 He was wiser than anyone else in the world, including the wisest people of the east and of Egypt. He was even wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Mahol’s three sons, Heman, Calcol, and Darda. Solomon became famous in every country around Judah and Israel. 32 Solomon wrote three thousand wise sayings and composed more than one thousand songs. 33 He could talk about all kinds of plants, from large trees to small bushes, and he taught about animals, birds, reptiles, and fish. 34 Kings all over the world heard about Solomon’s wisdom and sent people to listen to him teach.

Solomon Asks Hiram To Help Build the Temple

King Hiram of Tyre[g] had always been friends with Solomon’s father David. When Hiram learned that Solomon was king, he sent some of his officials to meet with Solomon.

Solomon sent a message back to Hiram:

Remember how my father David wanted to build a temple where the Lord his God could be worshiped? But enemies kept attacking my father’s kingdom, and he never had the chance. Now, thanks to the Lord God, there is peace in my kingdom and no trouble or threat of war anywhere.

The Lord God promised my father that when his son became king, he would build a temple for worshiping the Lord. So I’ve decided to do that.

I’d like you to have your workers cut down cedar trees in Lebanon for me. I will pay them whatever you say and will even have my workers help them. We both know that your workers are more experienced than anyone else at cutting lumber.

Hiram was so happy when he heard Solomon’s request that he said, “I am grateful that the Lord gave David such a wise son to be king of that great nation!” Then he sent back his answer:

I received your message and will give you all the cedar and pine logs you need. My workers will carry them down from Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea. They will tie the logs together and float them along the coast to wherever you want them. Then they will untie the logs, and your workers can take them from there.

To pay for the logs, you can provide the grain I need for my household.

10 Hiram gave Solomon all the cedar and pine logs he needed. 11 In return, Solomon gave Hiram about one hundred twenty-five thousand bushels of wheat and about one thousand one hundred gallons of pure olive oil each year.

12 The Lord kept his promise and made Solomon wise. Hiram and Solomon signed a treaty and never went to war against each other.

Solomon’s Workers

13 Solomon ordered thirty thousand people from all over Israel to cut logs for the temple, 14 and he put Adoniram in charge of these workers. Solomon divided them into three groups of ten thousand. Each group worked one month in Lebanon and had two months off at home.

15 He also had eighty thousand workers to cut stone in the hill country of Israel, seventy thousand workers to carry the stones, 16 and over three thousand assistants to keep track of the work and to supervise the workers. 17 He ordered the workers to cut and shape large blocks of good stone for the foundation of the temple.

18 Solomon’s and Hiram’s men worked with men from the city of Gebal,[h] and together they got the stones and logs ready for the temple.

Footnotes

  1. 3.1 the older. . . Jerusalem: Hebrew “the city of David.”
  2. 3.2 local shrines: The Hebrew text has “high places,” which were local places to worship God or foreign gods.
  3. 3.15 sacrifices to please the Lord: See Leviticus 1.1-17.
  4. 3.15 sacrifices to ask his blessing: See Leviticus 3.1-17.
  5. 3.16 women: Hebrew “prostitutes.”
  6. 4.19 of Judah: One ancient translation; these words are not in the Hebrew text.
  7. 5.1 Tyre: The most important city in Phoenicia. It was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea north of Israel, in what is today southern Lebanon.
  8. 5.18 Gebal: Later known as Byblos.