Evidence of Solomon’s Glory
ACCORDING to Bible chronology, King Solomon ruled Israel from 1037 B.C.E. to 998 B.C.E. Interestingly, the book The Archaeology of the Land of Israel, by Professor Yohanan Aharoni, reveals how a revolutionary advance in Israelite civilization took place “about 1000 B.C.E.”
One example given by Aharoni is the evidence of solid city walls built with large stones “cut into oblong, rectangular blocks, fitted together with precision.” In contrast, in countries neighboring Israel, parts of the city walls “were made of brick and wood.”
Furthermore, cities rebuilt at about the time of Solomon give evidence of careful planning, with neat lines of houses and carefully laid-out streets. Aharoni analyzes the ruins of “four towns in Judah built according to the same fundamental plan . . . Beer-sheba, Tell Beit Mirsim, Beth-shemesh, and Mizpah.” How this contrasts with another great center of civilization—the earlier Mesopotamian city of Ur! Respecting it, Sir Leonard Woolley wrote: “There had been no attempt at town-planning . . . The unpaved streets, many of them blind alleys . . . formed a maze in which it would have been easy to lose one’s way.”
Aharoni also comments on the improvement in household utensils about the time of Solomon’s reign. “The change in material culture . . . is discernible not only in luxury items but also especially in ceramics . . . The quality of the pottery and its firing improved beyond all recognition . . . There suddenly appeared a rich repertoire of various types of vessels.”
The most glorious feature of Solomon’s reign was the magnificent temple, the palace, and the government buildings in Jerusalem. A vast quantity of gold was used to decorate these structures. (1 Kings 7:47-51; 10:14-22) Five years after Solomon’s death, Pharaoh Shishak of Egypt came and stripped Jerusalem of its treasure.—1 Kings 14:25, 26.
In both Egypt and Palestine, archaeological inscriptions confirm that Shishak indeed conquered Israel. In fact, many historians acknowledge that Shishak’s plunder of Jerusalem revived a weak Egyptian economy and enabled Shishak to finance the massive enlargement of an Egyptian temple on which he recorded his conquest, as seen on this page. Shishak died soon afterward, and another inscription records that his son donated about 200 tons of gold and silver to the temples of Egypt. The inscription does not reveal the source of this wealth, but archaeologist Alan Millard, in his book Treasures From Bible Times, suggests that “much of it was the gold which Shishak carried away from Solomon’s Temple and palace in Jerusalem.”
No wonder that even an atheistic source acknowledges the reality of Solomon’s glorious reign! Bol’shaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia (Great Soviet Encyclopedia), under its entry “Solomon,” calls him “ruler of the Israelite-Judean kingdom,” adding that he ruled during “the kingdom’s zenith.”