Is King Solomon’s Wealth Exaggerated?
“The weight of the gold that came to Solomon in one year amounted up to six hundred and sixty-six talents.”—1 Kings 10:14.
ACCORDING to that Bible verse, King Solomon acquired over 25 tons of gold in a single year! This would be valued today at $240,000,000. It is almost twice as much gold as was mined worldwide in the year 1800. Is this possible? What does archaeological evidence show? It suggests that the Bible’s record of Solomon’s wealth is certainly plausible. Biblical Archaeology Review says:
◻ King Thutmose III of Egypt (second millennium B.C.E.) presented approximately 13.5 tons of gold items to the temple of Amon-Ra at Karnak—and this was just part of the gift.
◻ Egyptian inscriptions record gifts totaling approximately 383 tons of gold and silver offered by King Osorkon I (early first millennium B.C.E.) to the gods.
Furthermore, the volume Classical Greece of the series Great Ages of Man reports:
◻ The mines of Pangaeum in Thrace yielded more than 37 tons of gold each year for King Philip II (359-336 B.C.E.).
◻ When Philip’s son Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.E.) captured Susa, the capital of the Persian empire, treasures amounting to well over 1,000 tons of gold were found.—The New Encyclopædia Britannica.
So the Bible’s description of King Solomon’s wealth is not farfetched. Remember, too, that Solomon was “greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth” at that time.—1 Kings 10:23.
How did Solomon use his wealth? His throne was overlaid with “refined gold,” his drinking vessels were “of gold,” and he possessed 200 large shields and 300 bucklers of “alloyed gold.” (1 Kings 10:16-21) Above all, Solomon’s gold was used in connection with Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem. The temple lampstands and sacred utensils, such as forks, bowls, pitchers, and basins, were made of gold and silver. The 15-foot-tall [4.5 m] cherubs in the Most Holy, the altar of incense, and even the entire inside of the house were overlaid with gold.—1 Kings 6:20-22; 7:48-50; 1 Chronicles 28:17.
What about a gold-plated temple? Interestingly, such use of gold was by no means unusual in the ancient world. Biblical Archaeology Review notes that Amenophis III of Egypt “honored the great god Amun with a temple at Thebes that was ‘plated with gold throughout, its floor adorned with silver, [and] all its portals with electrum’”—an alloy of gold and silver. Furthermore, Esar-haddon of Assyria (seventh century B.C.E.) plated the doors and coated the walls of the shrine of Ashur with gold. Regarding the temple of Sin at Harran, Nabonidus of Babylon (sixth century B.C.E.) recorded: “I clad its walls with gold and silver, and made them shine like the sun.”
Thus, historical records suggest that the Biblical account of King Solomon’s wealth is not exaggerated.