Israel in the Days of David and Solomon
GOD promised to give Abram’s seed the land “from the river of Egypt to . . . the river Euphrates.” (Ge 15:18; Ex 23:31; De 1:7, 8; 11:24) After Joshua entered Canaan, it was some four centuries before the Promised Land reached those limits.
King David overthrew the Aramaean kingdom of Zobah, which reached the Euphrates in northern Syria.a To the south, David’s success against the Philistines brought him to Egypt’s border.—2Sa 8:3; 1Ch 18:1-3; 20:4-8; 2Ch 9:26.
Solomon then ruled “from the River [Euphrates] to the land of the Philistines and to the boundary of Egypt,” foreshadowing the Messiah’s peaceful rule. (1Ki 4:21-25; 8:65; 1Ch 13:5; Ps 72:8; Zec 9:10) Still, the area that Israel occupied was normally said to extend “from Dan to Beer-sheba.”—2Sa 3:10; 2Ch 30:5.
Disobeying God, King Solomon accumulated horses and chariots. (De 17:16; 2Ch 9:25) He could move these over a network of roads and highways. (Jos 2:22; 1Ki 11:29; Isa 7:3; Mt 8:28) We have a detailed route of only a few of these, such as “the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem and toward the south of Lebonah.”—Jg 5:6; 21:19.
The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel notes: “The most obvious difficulty in investigating ancient Israel’s road network is the fact that no clearly identifiable physical traces of the country’s roads from the Old Testament period have survived, because roads were not paved during [that period].” Yet, topography and the excavated remains of cities indicate the course of many of the roads.
Roads often influenced troop movements. (1Sa 13:17, 18; 2Ki 3:5-8) To attack Israel, the Philistines marched from Ekron and Gath to the area “between Socoh and Azekah.” Saul’s army met them there “in the low plain of Elah.” After David slew Goliath, the Philistines fled back to Gath and Ekron, and David went up to Jerusalem.—1Sa 17:1-54.
Lachish (D10), Azekah (D9), and Beth-shemesh (D9) sat astride natural routes through the Shephelah and toward the Judean hills. Thus these cities were keys to blocking enemies on the Via Maris from coming into Israel’s heartland.—1Sa 6:9, 12; 2Ki 18:13-17.
a Reubenite territory reached into the Syrian Desert, the eastern edge of which was the Euphrates.—1Ch 5:9, 10.
[Box on page 16]
BIBLE BOOKS FROM THIS PERIOD:
1 and 2 Samuel
Song of Solomon
[Maps on page 17]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Territory and Roads During United Monarchy
Boundaries (Solomon’s time)
[Rivers and streams]
T.V. of Egypt
David and Solomon (roads)
C12 WILDERNESS OF PARAN
E5 Jokneam (Jokmeam?)
E9 Lower Beth-horon
E9 Upper Beth-horon
G5 Lo-debar (Debir)
C10 Via Maris
H6 King’s Road
F5 Mt. Gilboa
[Bodies of water]
C8 Mediterranean Sea (Great Sea)
F10 Salt Sea (Dead Sea)
G4 Sea of Galilee
[Spring or well]
[Pictures on page 16]
Right: Valley of Elah, looking eastward to the hills of Judah
Below: A network of roads permitted travel in the Promised Land