The queen of Sheba heard about Solomon and his connection with the Name of God. She came to put his reputation to the test by asking tough questions.
She made a grand and showy entrance into Jerusalem - camels loaded with spices, a huge amount of gold, and precious gems. She came to Solomon and talked about all the things that she cared about, emptying her heart to him.
Solomon answered everything she put to him - nothing stumped him.
When the queen of Sheba experienced for herself Solomon's wisdom and saw with her own eyes the palace he had built,
the meals that were served, the impressive array of court officials and sharply dressed waiters, the lavish crystal, and the elaborate worship extravagant with Whole-Burnt-Offerings at the steps leading up to The Temple of God, it took her breath away.
She said to the king, "It's all true! Your reputation for accomplishment and wisdom that reached all the way to my country is confirmed.
I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself; they didn't exaggerate! Such wisdom and elegance - far more than I could ever have imagined.
Lucky the men and women who work for you, getting to be around you every day and hear your wise words firsthand!
And blessed be God, your God, who took such a liking to you and made you king. Clearly, God's love for Israel is behind this, making you king to keep a just order and nurture a God-pleasing people."
She then gave the king four and a half tons of gold, and also sack after sack of spices and expensive gems. There hasn't been a cargo of spices like that since that shipload the queen of Sheba brought to King Solomon.
The ships of Hiram also imported gold from Ophir along with tremendous loads of fragrant sandalwood and expensive gems.
The king used the sandalwood for fine cabinetry in The Temple of God and the palace complex, and for making harps and dulcimers for the musicians. Nothing like that shipment of sandalwood has been seen since.
King Solomon for his part gave the queen of Sheba all her heart's desire - everything she asked for, on top of what he had already so generously given her. Satisfied, she returned home with her train of servants.
Solomon received twenty-five tons of gold in tribute annually.
This was above and beyond the taxes and profit on trade with merchants and assorted kings and governors.
King Solomon crafted two hundred body-length shields of hammered gold - seven and a half pounds of gold to each shield
- and three hundred smaller shields about half that size. He stored the shields in the House of the Forest of Lebanon.
The king built a massive throne of ivory accented with a veneer of gold.
The throne had six steps leading up to it, its back shaped like an arch. The armrests on each side were flanked by lions.
Lions, twelve of them, were placed at either end of the six steps. There was no throne like it in any of the surrounding kingdoms.
King Solomon's chalices and tankards were made of gold and all the dinnerware and serving utensils in the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold - nothing was made of silver; silver was considered common and cheap.
The king had a fleet of ocean-going ships at sea with Hiram's ships. Every three years the fleet would bring in a cargo of gold, silver, and ivory, and apes and peacocks.
King Solomon was wiser and richer than all the kings of the earth - he surpassed them all.
People came from all over the world to be with Solomon and drink in the wisdom God had given him.
And everyone who came brought gifts - artifacts of gold and silver, fashionable robes and gowns, the latest in weapons, exotic spices, and horses and mules - parades of visitors, year after year.
Solomon collected chariots and horses: fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses! He stabled them in the special chariot cities as well as in Jerusalem.
The king made silver as common as rocks and cedar as common as the fig trees in the lowland hills.
His horses were brought in from Egypt and Cilicia, specially acquired by the king's agents.
Chariots from Egypt went for fifteen pounds of silver and a horse for about three and three-quarter pounds of silver. Solomon carried on a brisk horse-trading business with the Hittite and Aramean royal houses.
King Solomon was obsessed with women. Pharaoh's daughter was only the first of the many foreign women he loved - Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite.
He took them from the surrounding pagan nations of which God had clearly warned Israel, "You must not marry them; they'll seduce you into infatuations with their gods." Solomon fell in love with them anyway, refusing to give them up.
He had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred concubines - a thousand women in all! And they did seduce him away from God.
As Solomon grew older, his wives beguiled him with their alien gods and he became unfaithful - he didn't stay true to his God as his father David had done.
Solomon took up with Ashtoreth, the whore goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the horrible god of the Ammonites.
Solomon openly defied God; he did not follow in his father David's footsteps.
He went on to build a sacred shrine to Chemosh, the horrible god of Moab, and to Molech, the horrible god of the Ammonites, on a hill just east of Jerusalem.
He built similar shrines for all his foreign wives, who then polluted the countryside with the smoke and stench of their sacrifices.
God was furious with Solomon for abandoning the God of Israel, the God who had twice appeared to him
and had so clearly commanded him not to fool around with other gods. Solomon faithlessly disobeyed God's orders.
God said to Solomon, "Since this is the way it is with you, that you have no intention of keeping faith with me and doing what I have commanded, I'm going to rip the kingdom from you and hand it over to someone else.
But out of respect for your father David I won't do it in your lifetime. It's your son who will pay - I'll rip it right out of his grasp.
Even then I won't take it all; I'll leave him one tribe in honor of my servant David and out of respect for my chosen city Jerusalem."
God incited Hadad, a descendant of the king of Edom, into hostile actions against Solomon.
Years earlier, when David devastated Edom, Joab, commander of the army, on his way to bury the dead, massacred all the men of Edom.
Joab and his army stayed there for six months, making sure they had killed every man in Edom.
Hadad, just a boy at the time, had escaped with some of the Edomites who had worked for his father.
Their escape route took them through Midian to Paran. They picked up some men in Paran and went on to Egypt and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house, food, and even land.
Pharaoh liked him so well that he gave him the sister of his wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage.
She bore Hadad a son named Genubath who was raised like one of the royal family. Genubath grew up in the palace with Pharaoh's children.
While living in Egypt, Hadad heard that both David and Joab, commander of the army, were dead. He approached Pharaoh and said, "Send me off with your blessing - I want to return to my country."
"But why?" said Pharaoh. "Why would you want to leave here? Hasn't everything been to your liking?" "Everything has been just fine," said Hadad, "but I want to go home - give me a good send-off!"
Then God incited another adversary against Solomon, Rezon son of Eliada, who had deserted from his master, Hadadezer king of Zobah.
After David's slaughter of the Arameans, Rezon collected a band of outlaws and became their leader. They later settled in Damascus, where Rezon eventually took over as king.
Like Hadad, Rezon was a thorn in Israel's side all of Solomon's life. He was king over Aram, and he hated Israel.
And then, the last straw: Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was an Ephraimite from Zeredah, his mother a widow named Zeruah. He served in Solomon's administration.
This is why he rebelled. Solomon had built the outer defense system (the Millo) and had restored the fortifications that were in disrepair from the time of his father David.
Jeroboam stood out during the construction as strong and able. When Solomon observed what a good worker he was, he put the young man in charge of the entire workforce of the tribe of Joseph.
One day Jeroboam was walking down the road out of Jerusalem. Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh, wearing a brand-new cloak, met him. The two of them were alone on that remote stretch of road.
Ahijah took off the new cloak that he was wearing and ripped it into twelve pieces.
Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten of these pieces for yourself; this is by order of the God of Israel: See what I'm doing - I'm ripping the kingdom out of Solomon's hands and giving you ten of the tribes.
In honor of my servant David and out of respect for Jerusalem, the city I especially chose, he will get one tribe.
And here's the reason: He faithlessly abandoned me and went off worshiping Ashtoreth goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh god of the Moabites, and Molech god of the Ammonites. He hasn't lived the way I have shown him, hasn't done what I have wanted, and hasn't followed directions or obeyed orders as his father David did.
"Still, I won't take the whole kingdom away from him. I'll stick with him through his lifetime because of my servant David whom I chose and who did follow my directions and obey my orders.
But after that I'll remove the kingdom from his son's control and give you ten tribes.
I'll leave one tribe to his son, to maintain a witness to my servant David in Jerusalem, the city I chose as a memorial to my Name.
"But I have taken you in hand. Rule to your heart's content! You are to be the king of Israel.
If you listen to what I tell you and live the way I show you and do what pleases me, following directions and obeying orders as my servant David did, I'll stick with you no matter what. I'll build you a kingdom as solid as the one I built for David. Israel will be yours!
I am bringing pain and trouble on David's descendants, but the trials won't last forever."
Solomon ordered the assassination of Jeroboam, but he got away to Egypt and found asylum there with King Shishak. He remained in exile there until Solomon died.
The rest of Solomon's life and rule, his work and his wisdom, you can read for yourself in The Chronicles of Solomon.
Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years.
He died and was buried in the City of David his father. His son Rehoboam was the next king.
"When you see soldiers camped all around Jerusalem, then you'll know that she is about to be devastated.
If you're living in Judea at the time, run for the hills. If you're in the city, get out quickly. If you're out in the fields, don't go home to get your coat.
This is Vengeance Day - everything written about it will come to a head.
Pregnant and nursing mothers will have it especially hard. Incredible misery! Torrential rage!
People dropping like flies; people dragged off to prisons; Jerusalem under the boot of barbarians until the nations finish what was given them to do.
"It will seem like all hell has broken loose - sun, moon, stars, earth, sea,
in an uproar and everyone all over the world in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking.
"And then - then! - they'll see the Son of Man welcomed in grand style - a glorious welcome!
When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way!"
He told them a story. "Look at a fig tree. Any tree for that matter.
When the leaves begin to show, one look tells you that summer is right around the corner.
The same here - when you see these things happen, you know God's kingdom is about here.
Don't brush this off: I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too - these things will happen.
Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out.
"But be on your guard. Don't let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap,
for it's going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once.
So, whatever you do, don't go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that's coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man."
He spent his days in the Temple teaching, but his nights out on the mountain called Olives.
All the people were up at the crack of dawn to come to the Temple and listen to him.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)