Solomon: Two clever by Half
|Solomon: Two clever by Half||Type: Oil |
Dimensions: Width/Height (in inches) 60/48
This painting encapsulates and illustrates the life of King Solomon, son of David who began his forty year reign in approximately 967 BCE. During his leadership the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah reached its apogee geographically and politically. It rivaled ancient Egypt in power and grandeur, and experienced a golden age, both literally and metaphorically. Simultaneously, however, beneath the glimmering facade of rosy contentment and underneath its vast and superficial shiny gold surface, rebellion simmered, corruption brewed, and an ever expansive hubris slowly percolated to the surface.
Solomonís reign begins with the greatest of all hopes, and ends under a dark cloud of his own making. The division of the United Kingdom which ultimately led to the expulsion of Israel by the Assyrians resulting in the ten lost tribes, and which also led to the first expulsion of Judah by the Babylonians, and the destruction of the first Temple which Solomon built, and which also indirectly led to the ensuing protracted onset of millennia of bleak Jewish exile and persecution after the second expulsion by the Romans; all rest fairly and squarely on Solomonís broad shoulders. For the smartest man/King on earth, the lingering historical echoes of Solomonís implosion are quite an anti-climactic encore. We must trace his lifeís trajectory from beginning to end to understand his achievements, his miscalculations and the ultimate tragedy he inflicted upon himself and his people.
The Hebrew root of the name "Solomon" ("SLMH") is "SLM" which has two discrete definitions based on two different pronunciations which are both alluded to in the text: "SLM" when pronounced "Shaleym" means "complete" or "whole". Solomon was handed a "complete" i.e. an "undivided united" monarchy of Israel and Judah on a silver platter by his father David: "And the King Solomon reigned over ALL OF Israel (Kings I, 4:1). In a similar vein it is also stated "Let your heart therefore be Ďwholeí (ĎSLMí/ ĎShaleymí) with the Lord your God" (Kings I, 8:61). Likewise it is stated "for it came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods. And his heart was not Ďwholeí (ĎSLMí) with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father" (Kings I, 11: 4).
Thus the heart of Solomon (SLMH) was "whole/complete" ("SLM" /"Shaleym"), at the beginning of his reign. Towards the end of his reign his heart was no longer "SLM", and consequently his kingdom would soon also cease to be "SLM" (whole). His heart and kingdom were seamlessly intertwined, and pulsated in unison. A complete ("SLM") heart enabled a contented complete ("SLM") kingdom. A divided heart led to a discontented kingdom irrevocably torn asunder.
A second definition of "SLM" the root of Solomonís name ("SLMH") is pronounced "Shalom" meaning "peace". This refers to the "peace" that Israel enjoyed during his reign: "and he had Ďpeaceí (ĎSLYMí) on all sides around him" (Kings I, 5: 4).
Similarly the root of the Hebrew word "SLMYM" pronounced "Shelamim" is also "SLM". "SLMYM" means "peace offering-sacrifice". This word occurs frequently in the text and also emphasizes the ostensible "peace" ("SLYM"/shalom) during Solomonís reign (Kings I; 3:15, 8:63, and 8:64) over the "united complete/whole" ("SLM") monarchy.
Thus, in summary, the name "Solomon" conveys the "peace" (Shalom) which reigned throughout his reign over the "complete, whole, undivided United" (Shaleym) Kingdom of Israel and Judah during which time he had a "complete" (Shaleym) devoted heart and offered "peace" (Shelamim) sacrifices onto God.
When Solomon was born, the Prophet Nathan named him "Yedidya" which in Hebrew means "beloved of God" ("yedid ya"). Indeed he was initially beloved by God who twice spoke directly to him, thereby providing him with the status of not only King but also Prophet. The name "Yedidya" ("yDyDyh") has the same Hebrew root as his fatherís name "David" ("DvD"). Thus the loose translation of Yedidya also means little David. The Yiddish equivalent would be "Dovidel", or in common parlance, "David Jr.".
In the Book Ecclesiastics (Kohelet), Solomon is referred to by this bookís eponymous Hebrew name "KHLT" pronounced "Kohelet". This bookís authorship is attributed to Solomon. The root of "KHLT" in Hebrew is "KHL". When used as a verb it means to "assemble" or "gather". When used as a noun it means a "congregation" or an "assembly of people". The name "Kohelet" would thus mean "he who gathers an assembly of people/congregation".
This name refers to Solomonís theological leadership role during the acme of his reign when he brings the Ark of the Covenant to the newly built Temple and dedicates it before the entire "assembly" ("KHL") of Israel: "Then Solomon assembled (yKHL) the elders of Israel" (Kings I, 8:1), "And all the men of Israel "assembled themselves" (vyKHLy) onto King Solomon" (Kings I, 8:2), "And the King turned his face about, and blessed all of the congregation ("KHL") of Israel, and the whole congregation ("KHL") of Israel stood" (Kings I, 8:14.), "And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of the entire congregation ("KHL") of Israel (Kings I, 8:22).
When David pronounces Solomon King, he tells him to be strong and to be a man (Kings I, 2:2). In other words he must man up and work hard to protect the kingdom which David fought so hard to forge and unite over the course of forty years. In order to do so Solomon needs to eliminate any threat to his authority even if it means getting his hands a little dirty.
The early clear and imminent dangers to his nascent kingdom are his step brother Adonjiah ben (the son of) Hagit, who tried to usurp the throne along with all his traitorous collaborators including Abiathar the priest, Yoav ben Tzruya (Joab the son of Jeruiah; Davidís once loyal General), and an old enemy of Davidís, Shimi ben (the son of) Gera.
After Solomonís trusted new General, Benaiah ben (the son of) Jehoiadah, personally extinguishes Adonjiah, Joab and Shimi (Kings I; 2: 26, 2:34, and 2:46), and after the banishment of Abiathar the priest (Kings I, 2:22), the young Solomon now stands firmly on his own two feet in control of the Kingdom with his trusted General at his side: "and the kingdom was right in the hands of Solomon" (Kings I, 2:12). He is now alas a man (a mensch) securely perched on his throne, prepared to rule, and set the rules.
Two dream- like events set the themes and trajectory of Solomonís entire life. Embedded in these events are deep prophetic insights into the future. At Gibeon, the highest geographical peak affording maximum proximity to God, Solomon offers one thousand sacrifices out of pure and unadulterated love. God subsequently reciprocates this love by appearing to him in a night- time dream, and asks him what he wishes (in return).
Solomon humbly concedes that he is a young naÔve lad who doesnít know whether heís coming or going, nor does he know how to distinguish between good and evil (much like Adam and Eve prior to eating from the Tree of Knowledge). He requests an understanding "heart" ("LV" pronounced "LeV") which will enable him to distinguish between good and evil so as to effectively judge this very large ("heavy", or "kaveyd" in Hebrew ) nation. The adjective "heavy" describing Israel was first articulated by Moses.
God is so impressed by his humble request which doesnít include a request for wealth, or for the lives of his enemies (whom he already acquired; see above), that he will not only grant Solomon what he wants i.e. an expansive heart "rechav lev" (Kings I, 5:9) filled with unparalleled "wisdom" ("chachma"), and unprecedented "understanding" ("Navon"), he will also grant him unimaginable "wealth" ("osher") and "honor" ("kavod). And if he obeys God, heíll get longevity as the icing on the cake.
Immediately after this nightly vision, the text then states "and Solomon awakened, vhenay halom". These last two Hebrew words are commonly translated in the past tense, to mean "and behold it WAS a dream" (Kings I, 3:15). The dream referred to (occurring in the past) concerns God granting him wisdom etc. Immediately following this sentence the text continues: "Then came two women who were harlotsÖ" (Kings I, 3:16).
"Vehenay halom" can also be interpreted in the present-future tense i.e. "and behold HERE IS a (another) dream" which Solomon is experiencing in the present-immediate future, relative to the past previous dream just described, the details of which are about to unfold. The dream referred to by "vehenay halom" with this grammatical rendering relates to the subsequent tale (dream) of the two harlots, as opposed to the previous dream of his metaphysical encounter with God.
It is hypothesized here based on the above translation of "vehenay halom" that the story of the two harlots does not describe an event which transpired in real-time, but rather represents a metaphoric dream prophecy conveyed to Solomon in simultaneous non-chronological auditory-visual flashes, describing the beginning and end of his reign, and the fate of his descendants which will occur in the near and more distant future. This will be elaborated upon below.
Let us first reiterate the story as plainly stated (Kings I, 2:16-28), and then interpret it as a foreshadowing prophesy.
Two harlots stood before Solomon. One woman said "Please my lord, this woman and I dwell in ONE house, and I gave birth with her in the (this) house. And it came to pass, on the third day after I delivered that this woman also delivered. We were together, and there was no stranger (i.e. witness) in the house except for the two of us in the house. And this womanís child died in the night because she lay (rolled over) on it. She then got up in the middle of the night, she took my son who was next to me while I (your handmaiden) slept, and laid it on her "bosom" ("chaika"), and her son, the corpse, she placed on my "bosom" ("chaiki").
And I arrived in the morning to nurse my child and behold he is dead. And I looked at him (with wisdom and distinction) in the morning and behold this was not my son that I gave birth to..."
The other woman refuted this argument. "No my son is the live one, and the dead one is your son". The other one counter refutes: "No your son is the dead one, and my son is the live one".
Solomon then says "Get me a sword", and they brought a sword to the King. And the King said "divide" ("gizru") the live child into two. Give one half to one, and another half to the other one".
And the woman whose (true) son was alive because she had compassion on her son, said to Solomon, "please lord give the live child to her, do not kill him". The other woman said "it shall neither be mine nor yours, divide the child".
And the King said "give her the living child and do not kill it, she is the mother".
And all of Israel heard the judgment which the King had judged, and they feared the King for they saw that the wisdom of God was within him to do justice.
This drama is proof to Solomon and Israel that God did indeed grant him an expansive heart filled with wisdom and understanding allowing him to judge and rule his people with fairness and compassion.
This story and its prophetic reinterpretation are illustrated at the front and center of this painting. Solomon is sitting on his ivory throne over laid with gold ensconced in a royal red robe cradling the surviving infant upon his lap whilst pondering its fate. Twelve blue lions of Judah stand guard, six on each side (Kings I, 10:18-20). Only a total of four lions are viewed in this painting.
Their sentient eyes and loud, foreboding, protective roars are all focused on the terrorized infant, as they anticipate what final action the dangling sword (of Damocles) will take based on Solomonís judgment. The great blue lions of Judah with their prophetic souls fear for the fate of the child sensing their future. Like Balaamís talking donkey, they harbor their masterís prophetic spirit and probably see what he might or does not. Solomon like Balaam could communicate with animals. Incidentally, in all probability the speech of Balaamís donkey related in the Bible could only be heard in Balaamís mind, as would be the case with Solomon. Notably both Balaam and Solomon are prophets.
In this painting, TWO harlots attend Solomon, ONE on each side of his throne, ONE whispering into ONE ear, and the other whispering into his other ear, attempting to convince/seduce him into believing each of their versions of the truth.
Who really are these TWO "harlots" ("zonot") and who really are their TWO "children"?
The TWO harlots before Solomon metaphorically represent the future sinning divided TWO kingdoms of Judah and Israel who are both referred to as harlots by Ezekiel.
"And the word of the Lord came onto me saying: Son of man there were TWO women the daughters of ONE mother. And they committed harlotries in Egypt. They committed harlotries in their youth. There were their "bosoms" ("daday") pressed, and there their virgin "bosoms" were bruised (analogous but not identical to "bosom" reference/terminology in the harlot tale above). And the names of them were Ohella the elder, and Oholiba her sister, and they became mine and they bore sons and daughters. And there names are Shomron (Samaria), Ohella, and Jerusalem, Oholiba" (Ezekiel 23:1-4).
Thus the presentation of the TWO harlots before Solomon is in fact a dream-prophecy seen first by Solomon, and later visualized by Ezekiel (and to a certain extent Hosea and Jeremiah) long after the fruition of Solomonís dream. Throughout Solomonís dream-prophesy, glimpses of different realities in different space-time coordinates flitter in and out, in near simultaneity, from the very distant future (death of one infant) to the present/near future (two interdependent live infants), to the distant future (division of one infant), then to the very distant future (death of one infant, survival of one infant), and then fast forward to the very, very distant future (two interdependent live infants); For explanation see below.
The TWO harlot mothers live in ONE house in Solomonís dream-prophesy and are the daughters of ONE mother in Ezekielís vision. These TWO harlot women represent the future divided monarchies of Israel and Judah who originate from the same ONE father, Jacob, and from TWO mothers (not harlots), Leah and Rachel, respectively. Leah gave birth to Judah, and Rachel gave birth to Ephraim (Joseph) within the same ONE house (bayit) or in Ezekielís terminology "Ohel" meaning tent.
Israel, the Northern divided monarchy whose future capital (with respect to Solomonís present) is Samaria, is symbolized in Ezekiel by the harlot named "Ohella", meaning "her tent" (her house).
Judah, the Southern divided monarchy whose capital is Jerusalem is symbolized in Ezekiel by the harlot named "Oheliba", which most likely means "the Ohel which is more loved" by God. The root of "LiBa" in the name "Oheliba" is "LeV" which means "heart". It is the same understanding "heart" (LeV") requested and received by Solomon.
God loves Judah more because Judah was considered less idolatrous than Israel, and because the Temple dedicated to God is located in Jerusalem, Judahís territory. This love is also a sign of respect to Godís beloved David who is from Judah. It is specifically because of this love that God preserves a remnant of the monarchy (Judah) for Davidís descendants eternally. Ohella and Oheliba who stem from ONE father within the same ONE house (United Kingdom), in the future (relative to Solomon, and in the past relative to Ezekiel) part ways, and set up TWO separate houses (Ohels) i.e. TWO separate monarchies.
The dead son of the scheming harlot in Solomonís tale represents the visage of Israel (son of Ohella) in the VERY DISTANT FUTURE after he was exiled by the Assyrians, and fell off the cliff of history. At that point he assimilates, melts into obscurity, and is thus declared dead. The harlot, who smothers her infant to death with her immorality, is none other than the harlot Ohella of Ezekielís vision.
The other harlot in Solomonís vision is none other than Oheliba of Ezekielís vision who is the mother of her son Judah; the living child who survives into the VERY DISTANT FUTURE after his brother Israel was exiled by the Assyrians. Judah ultimately survives after its own first expulsion by the Babylonians into the more VERY DISTANT FUTURE, and also survives after its second expulsion by the Romans into the even more VERY DISTANT FUTURE. Of the two monarchies, it is ultimately Judah who despite suffering greatly, survives against all odds. It is Judah who is the single surviving infant that Solomon perceives in one of the multiple threads of the historical space-time tapestry revealed to him.
As is noted in Solomonís vision, the harlot who is the mother of the living infant (Judah) gives birth three days prior to the birth of the infant Israel-Ephraim by the other harlot (Kings I, 3:18). This in keeping with the chronological birth order of Judah being born first to Leah, and Ephraim (Joseph-Israel) being born later to Rachel.
In this painting the single surviving infant who is being cradled in Solomonís hands, and is awaiting judgment is illustrated as a single (ONE) TWO-headed (Siamese twin) embodiment of the United Kingdom of Judah and Israel in the PRESENT and NEAR FUTURE (relative to Solomon). This single (ONE) living infant is portrayed as TWO Siamese twins who are conjoined at the chest sharing common cardiac, pulmonary and digestive systems. Each infant has ONE arm and TWO legs.
Thus on the one hand they might appear to be TWO infants because they have TWO separate heads and brains, but on the other hand, they are ONE infant because they share many vital organs, in particular ONE heart (LeV), and thus their lives are so thoroughly intertwined that one cannot readily survive without the other. They are TWO separate individuals but they comprise ONE single living entity. They are thus simultaneously both TWO and ONE living beings, and being, respectively. Alternatively they are both ONE infant and TWO HALF infants.
This visual metaphor of Siamese twins representing Judah and Israel, accurately and perfectly symbolize their anatomical, functional and existential relationship. Judah and Israel were born from the same father, and are joined at the hip, so to speak (in this painting at the torso). In order for both of them to survive and thrive, they need to successfully defend themselves and fight off their common enemies. The only way to succeed in this task is to be united (ONE). This successful survival tool was historically and repetitively verified during the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon.
In this painting, the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems of the illustrated Siamese twins are intertwined. If and when they are severed, neither one would be capable of living independently for more than a few moments. Analogously when the United Kingdom was split into two separate monarchies, Israel and Judah while existing as separate entities were considerably weaker than their combined greater whole and ultimately each was soundly and ignominiously defeated by the Assyrians and Babylonians, respectively and chronologically.
Only by the grace of God did Judah ultimately survive after an infinite series of near Ėdeath experiences, and even more infinite divine resuscitations into the DISTANT AND VERY DISTANT FUTURE. Because it was Solomonís behavior (see below) that was the prime catalyst that sparked the split of the United Monarchy, it is ultimately Solomon who bears responsibility for the reverberating consequences of that split, whose rippling historical after-effects are still felt to this day.
In this painting, the Siamese infant on the right is Rehavam (Rehoboam), Solomonís son, who in the future inherits and transiently reigns over the United Kingdom until Israel is torn from him, and he is then relegated to reigning only over the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His Hebrew name is written on his baby royal crown. The name "Judah", his kingdom, is inscribed in Hebrew on his collar bone, and his capital, "Jerusalem" is written in Hebrew on his forearm.
The name "Rehavam" when broken down into its constituent Hebrew words is "Rehav am", meaning "broad/ wide or expansive nation". He is the son of Solomon who has a "rehav lev" ("broad heart"); Kings I, 5:9. Furthermore the divided territory of Judah at its waist was geographically wider (more "rehav") than that of Israel.
The Siamese infant on the left in this painting is Yeravam (Jeroboam), the future enemy and rival of Solomon, who will reign over the Northern Kingdom of Israel upon the division of the United Kingdom. His name is written in Hebrew on his baby crown. The name "Israel", his kingdom, is written in Hebrew on his collar bone. Written in Hebrew on his forearm is the name "Shomron" (Samaria), the name of the future capital of Israel so designated by Omri, a future king of Israel who purchased it from Shomer.
The name "Yeravam" when broken down into its constituent Hebrew words is "yerav am" meaning "the nation will numerically multiply". The term "rav" meaning "numerically great" is referred to in the text several times; "am rav" (Kings I, 3:8), and "am harav hazeh", "this great nation" (Kings I, 5:21). Because Yeravam reigned over the numerical majority of the monarchy (ten or eleven out of twelve tribes) he was appropriately named "Yerav Am"; monarch of the numerically great (greater) nation.
Alternatively the root "rav" also means "to quarrel". Yeravam "quarreled" with Solomon, and throughout their joint histories, Israel "quarreled" with Judah. In this context Yeravam is appropriately named "a quarreling nation".
As mentioned above, the woman on the right of Solomon in the painting represents the truthful harlot in Solomonís tale, as well as Oheliba, the harlot mother representing the future sinning Judah as described by Ezekiel. She is cradling Solomonís hand which is cradling her metaphorical offspring, Rehavam/Judah. The Hebrew words "Oheliba" and "harlot" are inscribed on her forearm and hand respectively. Also written on her biceps is the name "Naama HaAmmonit" who is the Ammonite wife of King Solomon, the biological mother of Rehavam, Solomonís direct heir, and future King of Judah (Kings I, 14:21). Also written on her arm is the Hebrew name "Malkat Sheba", "the Queen of Sheba".
The word "Sheba" is typically thought to refer to a geographic national origin of the Queen of Sheba, hypothesized to be somewhere in Southern Arabia or Ethiopia. However the word "SBA" in Hebrew simply means "who comes" i.e. the Queen "who comes" to see and learn about Solomon. Her geographic origin is not important. The Queen of Sheba comes to see for her own eyes if Solomon is as wise as is rumored. She doesnít believe the rumors and thus she "comes" to verify the facts for herself. In the end they both exchange gifts. She concludes "Happy are your people, happy are your subjects who stand before you and always hear your wisdom. Blessed should your God be who delights in you to set you on the throne of Israel because God loves Israel forever, therefore he made you King to do justice and righteousness" (Kings I, 10:8-9).
It seems that this story is mentioned to buttress and confirm the greatness and wealth of Solomon.
In this painting, Oheliba, Ezekielís metaphorical mother of Judah, and Naama the biological mother of Rehavam, the first King of divided Judah, are fused into the same image. The Queen of Sheba is also fused into this same image because she is ONE of TWO (parallel) Queens mentioned in the narrative. The image of the other Queen, the Egyptian Queen, Solomonís first wife, is fused with the other (opposing and parallel) harlot (for explanation, see below).
In this painting the harlot woman to the left of Solomon represents the untruthful harlot who is fused with Ohella, Ezekielís metaphorical mother of Israel. The Hebrew words "Ohella" and "harlot" are inscribed on her forearm and hand, respectively. Inscribed on her deltoid in Hebrew letters is the name "daughter of Pharaoh", Solomonís first wife who is also fused with this image. She is cradling the infant future King of Israel, Yeravam, along with Solomonís hand.
Although the daughter of Pharaoh is not the biological mother of Yeravam, whom she is cradling, she symbolizes the maternal protective alliance that the future Yeravam will forge with Egypt; first to seek shelter from Solomon who is out to kill him, and later as a constant reliable ally against Judah throughout their separate kingdomís shared histories. She is wearing an Egyptian crown of Hathor, and her dress is adorned with Egyptian motifs as are her arm bracelets.
In this painting, at the beginning of his monarchy when Solomon is most wise and loyal to God, he is illustrated cradling the ONE Siamese twin child i.e. the United Kingdom of Judah ĖIsrael, and pondering their (his/its) fate. When Solomon threatens to split the Siamese twins (The United Kingdom) into TWO separate halves, it is the harlot Oheliba who voices compassion for her child thereby identifying her as the worthy mother deserving that her child, Judah, survive the immediate bloody surgical division of the United Kingdom, as well as the many stormy millennia of exile into the future.
Ultimately it is the Siamese twin HALF/Judah who alone survives (into the DISTANT AND VERY DISTANT FUTURE), and it is the Siamese twin HALF/ Israel (son of Ohella) who does not, and is the one who dies in THE DISTANT FUTURE. This is foreshadowed by the future actual death of Aviyah, Yeravamís (King of Israelís) son, who falls ill, and is condemned to death by God as a punishment for Yeravamís betrayal and flagrant idolatry (Kings I 14: 14-17).
Oholibaís compassion appeals to Solomonís sensitive heart, which at this point in his life is whole (SLM), and pulsates in unison with the single shared heart of Judah and Israel (the Siamese twins). Thus Solomon the wise keeps the United Kingdom united, for now, and does not sever the Siamese twins. Itís not surprising that it is the mother of Judah who voices compassion. Judah was always more loyal to God with the Temple in its mist. For now, the knife is spared, and the ONE child (IN THE PRESENT AND NEAR FUTURE), i.e. the Siamese twins remain attached, united (ONE) and vibrant.
In this painting the sword which Solomon requested is resting upon the Siamese twinsí connecting shared torso, which comprise their shared flesh and organs i.e. the precise anatomy which when cut will eternally sever the life bond between Judah and Israel. While they await Solomonís judgment tears roll down their cheeks anticipating their fate. The kneeling man brandishing the sword on the left of this painting is the Prophet Acheya HaShiloni (Ahija the Shilonite). This is the Prophet who in the future announces Godís intension of splitting the United Monarchy as a punishment for Solomonís theological deviance i.e. his worshipping of other gods.
In the future, Acheya HaShiloni (Ahija the Shilonite) will symbolically tear his new garment and instruct Yeravam to take ten pieces symbolizing the ten tribes of Israel that will come under his rule (Kings I, 11:30-32). Acheya is the only Prophet who lacked the fortitude to confront a wrong -doing King to his face. Who after all could approach the smartest person in the world, and expect to successfully admonish him? Thus Acheya addressed Godís plans not to Solomon, but to his enemy and rival, Yeravam.
It should be noted that Nathan the Prophet had no compunction berating David to his face confronting him about his sins. The fact that Acheya did not approach Solomon is proof of Solomonís great hubris and inapproachability in his later life. When Achiya was old and blind he had no such compunction addressing Yeravamís wife with their dying child concerning their fate due to Yeravamís future sins (Kings I, 14: 9-13).
In this painting, the sword Achiya is brandishing appears static, but in fact, swings in different directions depending on different space time coordinates. In one time frame, the sword, at the beginning of Solomonís reign, spares the child, and is retracted. Fast forwarding into the future, during Rehavamís reign, the sword slices the babies (baby) in HALF, and their lives are severely shortened in the absence of their connecting physical and spiritual bond.
Fast forwarding into the VERY DISTANT FUTURE the Israel Siamese baby HALF eventually succumbs and dies underneath the weight of his mother Ohellaís sins. The Assyrians exile and leave him for dead. Judah, the other HALF of the severed Siamese twins, struggles to reconstitute itself without its other vital HALF, Israel.
Because of Judahís commitment to Temple and God he survives, in his own land, then outside his land, in exile, and then millennia later returns to his land nurturing his healing wounds becoming whole again (THE DISTANT AND VERY DISTANT FUTURE). In the VERY, VERY DISTANT FUTURE, Israel long thought lost and/or dead begins his journey back home, eventually reconstituting the original ONE Siamese twin in OUR PRESENT who once upon a time was perched on Solomonís lap awaiting judgment, as he does today.
Thus, during Solomonís dream-prophesy of the two harlots he is afforded glimpses of multiple historical realities from multiple space-time coordinates which are conveyed to him in what might appear as a mangled chronological sequence, the symbolic nature of which he may or may not have grasped. Alas, if only his Lions could have told him. If only he asked them, for he spoke the language of all animals (Kings I, 5:13).
In this painting two analogous passages are written vertically in black Hebrew on Achiya the Prophetís brandishing sword. The first and upper most passage refers to Solomonís verdict of dividing the infant in HALF: "CUT (GZRY) the live boy into two" (Kings I, 4:25). The second passage refers to Godís verdict of splitting the United Kingdom in HALF: "I will surely CUT (KRA AKRA; the word CUT is repeated twice relaying certitude) the kingdom from you" (Kings I, 11:11). The juxtaposition of these TWO passages clearly illuminates that cutting the baby in HALF metaphorically symbolizes dividing the United Kingdom in TWO.
In this painting Solomonís name in Hebrew is inscribed on his golden crown resting atop his head. It surrounds his exposed naked cerebral cortex. Bidirectional energy waves and rays stream into and out of his brain.
Streaming into the left side of his brain (on the right in the painting) are rays of divinely implanted "wisdom" ("cachma"), "understanding" ("tevunah") and "rehav lev" ("expansive heart"). Streaming into the right side of his brain (on the left side of the painting) are the divine gifts of "wealth" ("osher") and "honor" ("kavod"). All these attributes provided to Solomon by God are written in multicolored Hebrew, vertically going directionally from top to bottom, symbolizing their transplantation into his brain from on high.
Streaming out of his brain are the creative thought waves generated from Solomonís brain exiting outward to the world and God. Exiting from the left and right sides of his brain (right and left sides of the painting, respectively) are the books Proverbs (Mishli), and Song of Songs (Shir haShirim). This is based on the text "And he spoke three thousand proverbs (Mashal), and his songs were a thousand and five" (Kings I, 5:12). This is also the textual basis for ascribing authorship the Books of Proverbs and Song of Songs to Solomon. These words are written in purple Hebrew directionally from bottom to top symbolizing their creative propulsion outwards from the brain whence they were generated.
Written horizontally in Hebrew between these two books is the name of the third book ascribed to Solomonís authorship; "Ecclesiastics" or in Hebrew,"Kohelet". In this painting it is spelled "kHBLtí incorporating the Hebrew letter "bet" (B) such that the middle of the word (capitalized above) spells "HeBel", or "vanities" which is the major theme of the book, and the major theme of Solomonís later life. This word forms a cross- word with the "B" (pronounced "V") of the Hebrew words "rechav leB" (expansive heart) descending downward into his brain. Other words inscribed on the back of his throne obscured by the light and rays and thought waves emanating and exiting of Solomonís brain, include "Israel", "Judah", "Ohella" and "Oheliba". These words also form cross-words with each other.
In this painting, Solomonís pulsating super smart brain is exposed. Like everyone else he has TWO cerebral hemispheres; left and right. This biological phenomenon of anatomical symmetric mirror-image duality parallels the left and right symmetric mirror image duality of the TWO Siamese twins he is cradling.
Illustrated are Solomonís TWO brain hemispheres connected by shared white matter tracts (corpus collosum) which together constitute his ONE single brain. Likewise there are TWO Siamese twin infants (nations) connected by a shared torso housing shared organs, constituting ONE entity (United Kingdom). Similarly there are TWO sister (mirror-image) harlots who together constitute ONE united family, and there are even TWO Solomon personalities living in ONE brain (ONE Solomon with a SPLIT personality); ONE good, and ONE evil, ONE personality of his youth, and another personality of old age, ONE is Doctor Jekyll, and the other is Mr. Hyde.
The number TWO and to a certain extent its mathematical inverse ratio ONE HALF (ONE OVER TWO), is a very prominent recurrent numerical leitmotif embedded in the story of Solomon. These numbers represent antitheses, dualities, and polar opposites, e.g. blunt choices of either /or, stark contrasts of black or white, and ultimately moral choices of good versus evil.
In this painting the gyri on the right and left sides of Solomonís brain relay this stark duality and clash of polar opposites. Inscribed in Hebrew on the left hemisphereís brain gyri (right side of painting) are four different names of God including "Eyn Sof", "Yehova" (written in ancient Hebrew), "Elohim" and "Shadai". Inscribed in Hebrew on the opposite hemisphereís brain gyri are the names of four antithetical foreign gods he later worships including "Ashtoret", "Chemosh" (written in ancient Moabite/Hebrew), "Milkem" and "Moloch".
The numbers ONE, TWO, and HALF recur frequently and repetitively in the text. Solomon is King over ONE United Kingdom to be divided into TWO HALVES, Israel and Judah. There are TWO harlots. Solomon threatens to divide the baby into TWO separate dead ONE HALF pieces. TWO queens are mentioned in some detail in the story; the Queen (Princess who becomes a Queen upon marriage) of Egypt and the Queen of Sheba. A third woman, the mother of Rehavam is mentioned much later after Solomon dies.
Solomon builds TWO houses; ONE for God and ONE for himself. The Temple houses TWO CHERUBS (keruvim) beaten out of ONE piece of gold. Beneath the cherubim, inside the Ark of the Covenant are the TWO tablets of the Law which constitute ONE Torah. The entrance to the Temple has TWO doors, surrounded by TWO pillars named "Boaz" and "Yachin".
Solomon maintains, at first, that he doesnít know the difference between the TWO moral choices, good and evil (in this painting these Hebrew words inscribed on his sleeves on the right and left, respectively) or know how to choose between the TWO opposing directions of coming (entering) or going (exiting); inscribed in Hebrew on his sleeves on the left and right respectively, in this painting.
Furthermore, God appears to Solomon TWO times. The Templeís construction begins in the SECOND month (Zv). At the end of TWENTY (TWO X 10) years after both the Temple and Solomonís house were built, Solomon gives Hiram TWENTY (TWO x 10) cities in the land of Galilee (Kings I, 9:10-11).
Ironically Solomon knew more that he couldnít distinguish between good and evil prior to getting infused with wisdom and understanding, then later in his life, after he was blessed with these spectacular gifts. Unfortunately it was the simultaneous infusion of wealth and honor that short-circuited and corrupted the understanding and wisdom he received (elaboration below). Note (in this painting) that "OSR" ("wealth") when spelled backwards is "RSO" ("evil"). Wealth is a blessing unless improperly obtained or improperly directed.
The theme of contrasting dualities in this painting is peppered throughout the architectural background and is symbolized by visually employing multiple scattered contrasting black and white spaces.
The theological apogee of Solomonís life involved the building and dedication of a permanent House dedicated to God. In this painting the Temple is illustrated in the background behind Solomonís throne. Its construction out of precious stone, expensive wood and gold was a culmination and vindication of Israelís long and bumpy journey. Its completion celebrated the fact that the people of Israel were no longer poor slaves in Egypt, that they were no longer nomadic wanderers in the desert, constructing, deconstructing and schlepping a temporary tabernacle through sand and mud. They are proud citizens of a Nation- State rivaling the splendor of Egypt where they were once upon a time enslaved. In addition to a permanent Temple, they maintained a permanent fearsome army, they became the Mediterranean hub of commerce, they enjoyed unimaginable material prosperity and were ruled by a King unrivaled in wisdom and prestige. With power and wealth came peace. All was good. They became a normal nation like others. So it appeared.
It took Four hundred and eighty (480) years from the time Israel came out of Egypt, until the fourth year (4) of Solomonís reign, in the second month of ZV (splendor), when Solomon first began to build the Temple; "The House for God" (Habayit lYehovah).
The dimensions of the Temple were 60 (Length) x 20 (width) and 30 (height) amot (cubits). The total volume was 36,000 amot. It took seven years to complete. The last month of construction occurred in the eighth month (8) of Bul.
Note how all the dimensions of the Temple are divisible by FOUR. FOUR symbolizes the FOUR lettered tetragrammaton name of God (YHVH). Hence God (FOUR-lettered tetragrammaton) is embedded and embodied in the mathematical foundation of the Temple.
-The foundation of the Temple was laid 4 (FOUR) X 120 (480) years after Israel left Egypt.
-Construction began in 4th (FOUR) X 1 year into Solomonís reign
-Construction was finalized during the 4 (FOUR) X 2 (8th) month of Bul
-The cubic volume of the temple was 4 (FOUR) X 9,000 (36,000) cubic amots.
It took SEVEN years to complete the Templeís construction. The Temple constructed by man for God took SEVEN years paralleling the SEVEN days (including a rest day) it took God to construct the universe for man.
Initiating the construction of the Temple during the second month (TWO) of Solomonís reign highlights the duality of Solomonís personal life (see above).
In this painting the Temple is illustrated as constructed from stone with multiple windows as is stated: "And for the house he made windows broad within and narrow without" (Kings I, 6:4). "It was built of stone made ready at the quarry, and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was being built" (Kings I, 6:7).
The predominant color of the stones in this painting is yellow-gold symbolic of the generous use of inlaid gold which was used within the sanctuary and for the construction of the very important cherubim (not illustrated here): "And before the sanctuary which was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth and twenty cubits in height was overlaid with pure gold he made two cherubim of olive wood each ten cubits high" (Kings I, 6:20).
"And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub and five cubits was the other wing of the cherub. From the utmost part of one wing to the end of the other wing was ten cubits. And the other cherub was ten cubits. The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so it was the other cherub. And the wings of the cherubim were stretched forth so that the wing of one touched one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall, and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house. And he overlaid the cherubim with gold" (Kings I, 6:24-27).
The cherubim which were ten cubits tall were ultimately placed on top of the Ark of the Covenant making them appear much taller. Thus the torsos of the cherubim when viewed by the Priests upon entry into the sanctuary must have been facing them straight on. Their faces looked toward each other and down on the ark.Their wing spans were completely outstretched, touched each other and the walls from one side to the next occupying the entire twenty cubit width of the sanctuary. Their sheer size in height and width must have been extraordinarily visually imposing and must have filled the priests with fear and awe. The space in between the cherubim through which God communicated was also physically impressive in size.
Although only the priests were privy to the sight of the actual cherubim in the sanctuary, their visual symbolism as a reminder of Godís power must have been very important because images of them were scattered throughout the Temple for all to see. On the mid-left of this painting, the doors of the Temple are illustrated with paintings of carved cherubim facing a palm tree. The trees are illustrated with roots interspersed with open flowers. This is based on the text: "And he carved all the walls of the house around with carved figures of cherubim, and palm trees and open flowers, within and without. And for the entrance of the sanctuary he made doors of olive wood, and he carved upon them carvings of cherubim and palm tree and open flowers and overlaid them with gold. And he spread the gold upon the cherubim and the palm trees. He did the same of the entrance of the temple door posts" (Kings I, 6:31-32).
In this painting the doors of the Temple on each side are bordered by TWO anthropomorphized columns that are named Boaz and Yachin. Their Hebrew names are written vertically on these columns. "Boaz" means "with strength" and is the name of Solomonís ancestor who married Ruth, the Moabite daughter-in- law of Naomi whose progeny six generations later gives birth to his father David. Hence naming a Temple column "Boaz" was most likely a tribute to this very important ancestor. "Yachin" means "correct/upright" (orthodox) which is the behavior the Temple was to instill in the Israelites.
When construction of the Temple is completed, Solomon assembles all the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes in Jerusalem to bring up the Ark of the Covenant from the city of David, Zion. "And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto King Solomon at the feast in the month Eytanim which is the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came and the priests took up the ark..." (Kings I, 8:2) "Öand the priests brought the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord unto its place into the sanctuary of the house to the most holy place even under the wings of the cherubimÖ" "ÖFor the cherubim spread forth their wings over the place of the ark. There was nothing in the ark save the TWO tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb when the lord made a covenant with the Kingdom of Israel..." (Kings I, 8:6-9).
Illustrated in this painting are clouds surrounding the Temple symbolizing the encroaching presence of God as is stated: "and it came to pass when the priests were come out of the holy place that Ďthe cloud filled the house of the Lordí (written in white Hebrew on the cloud on the upper right of this painting), so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud, Ďfor the glory (honor) of God filled the House of godí ( written in white Hebrew on the two clouds on the upper left of this painting ).
Solomon addresses the assembled people upon the Templeís completion and proceeds to make a beautiful speech praising God, and blessing Israel. His words come straight from his heart, and his devotion to God and his people are of utmost sincerity revealing his inner spiritual grandeur:
"God dwells in a thick cloud" (written in white Hebrew in this painting on a cloud on the right of the painting in the second tier of clouds; Kings I, 8:12). "I have built you a house of habitation, a place for you to dwell forever" (written in white Hebrew in this painting on the dark blue horizontal beam of the temple adjacent to the harlot to Solomonís right).
This is in response to Godís statement "And I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel, and I will not leave my nation Israel" (Kings I, 6:12; these words are written in dark blue on the light blue stones of the temple on the right of this painting above the checkered windows). The Hebrew letters of Godís name YHVH appear individually in each of these FOUR checkered windows symbolizing Godís presence inside the Temple.
"He (Solomon) spread forth his hands towards heaven and he said: Oh Lord the God of Israel there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath who keeps his covenant and compassion with his servants who walk before you with all their heartÖ.(Kings I, 8:23).
"Can God truthfully dwell on earth? (Written in white Hebrew in this painting on the horizontal blue uppermost column at the very top right of the Temple). Behold the heaven and the heaven of the heavens cannot contain you how much less than this house that Iíve built" (written in white Hebrew on the horizontal dark blue beams at the very top left of the Temple; Kings I, 8:27). Solomon clearly views God as a singular non-corporeal and universal entity.
He continues "Ö and hearken to the supplication of your servant and your people Israel when they shall pray towards this place, and you will hear in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear you will forgive" (Kings I, 8:31).
When Solomon finishes addressing God he blesses Israel:" Bless God that gave peace to his nation Israel just like he said, not one thing deviated from his good word that he spoke in the hands of Moses his servant". ĎLet God our God be with us like he was with our fathers. Let him not leave us nor forsake usí (written in white Hebrew on four stacked horizontal beams in this painting above the Temple doors in between Boaz and Yachin; Kings I, 8:56-57). These words have been incorporated into Jewish prayers.
God appears to Solomon the second time after the completion of his and Solomonís house and confirms that he heard his prayers. He informs him that "I have sanctified this house which you have built to put my name on it forever, and my eyes and my heart will be upon it all the days" (Kings I, 9:3-4). He also tells him that he will establish his throne over Israel forever so long as he walks before him uprightly like David.
He warns him in advance: " But if you turn away from me and not keep my commandments and laws, and you will worship and bow down to other gods then I will CUT off Israel out of the land which I have given him and this house which I sanctified in my name will I cast out of my sight, and Israel will be an example and a byword ( a cautionary tale) among all peoples And this house which is so high shall become desolate and every one that passes by it will be astonished and will hiss and when they shall say : why did God do this unto this land and to this house? They shall be answered: because they forsook God their God who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and lay hold of other gods and worshipped them, and served them, therefore did God bring this evil upon them" (Kings I, 9:6-9).
God is therefore laying down the choices for Solomon whilst peering into the future.
Despite Solomonís sincere and beautiful words, and his success in the completion of the Temple, troubling signs begin to emerge hinting that Solomon might be losing his humility and might be slightly conflicted, to say the least.
Solomon decides to build his own home alongside Godís. The dimensions of his house are 100 (L) x 50(W) by 30(H) cubits. The cubic volume is 150,000. None of these numbers are divisible by FOUR (as are the Templeís; see above). Although his house was not taller than the Temple, it was longer and wider. Because it was bigger, and probably more ornate, it took 13 years to complete, as opposed to 7 years for the Temple. Hence his own house is bigger and more ornate than Godís, and therefore took almost twice as long to complete.
He also designates a special sub house dedicated to and reserved for wife number one (in marriage order and significance), Pharaohís daughter: "He made also a house for Pharaohís daughter whom Solomon had taken for a wife, like onto his porch" (Kings I, 7:8).
Not only does Solomon take an Egyptian wife, daughter of the King of Egypt, to ally himself, and to symbolically put himself on equal footing with Egypt (from which Israel escaped physical and spiritual slavery), but he also makes a special home for her alone, out of his one thousand strong harem, designating her as his most precious wife. Thus he is not so subtly stating you can take Israel out of Egypt, but you canít take Egypt out of Israel.
Egypt is not only a reminder of raw power, and of oppression, it is also a reminder of worshipping the golden calf. When Israel thinks of Egypt they also think of the drowning Egyptians in the red sea with their horses and chariots. Naturally Solomon with flattering mimicry must also have countless of horses and chariots alluding that his country is no less Egyptian than Egypt.
In line with this Egyptian inferiority complex needing to coat everything with an Egyptian palette, Solomon inserts golden calf symbolism perhaps unwittingly and/or subconsciously right outside the Temple: Illustrated on the middle left of this painting is Solomonís golden molten sea consisting of twelve golden oxen buttressing a circular basin, placed in front of the Temple as stated: "and he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim round in compass. And under the brim of it round about there were knops which did compass it, the knops were in two rows (see painting). It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east, and the sea was set upon them above, and all their hinder parts were inward". The size of these oxen rivaled the size of the holy cherubim. Notably, all Israel saw the oxen, and only the priests saw the actual cherubim.
What is the symbolism of this golden molten sea? What precisely was Solomon thinking? Twelve golden calves for the twelve tribes of Israel? One golden calf for each tribe? This physical and theological construct did not co-exist with the Tabernacle in the desert, nor did it co-exist with the second Temple.
The circular arrangement of the twelve calves around a circular basin is a very ancient and essentially pagan (almost universal) geometric concept of the divine which was incorporated into the circular arrangement of the worshipping pillars located at Stone Hedge, as well as at very similar, even more ancient pagan worshipping circles consisting of huge stone slabs arrayed in a circle. The latter finding has been recently excavated in Turkey and the near East. This circular geometric arrangement of the golden oxen which is almost certainly a relic of a very ancient theology, along with the very concept of the golden calves, may have been the brainchild of Hiram, but it certainly was not censored by Solomon.
This golden oxen symbolism couldnít have been ideal for instilling monotheism. It is no wonder that in the future, Yeravam, who becomes the first King of the Northern Monarchy after outlawing Israel from visiting the Temple in Jerusalem, builds two golden calves saying to Israel, "these are the gods that took you out of Egypt". Certainly he felt theologically justified, on the utmost superficial level of symbolism that he was replacing the twelve golden oxen of the Temple with two shiny new golden calves. In fact these two golden calves were sufficient to quench the Israelitesí theological thirst at the time, as was one calf by itself sufficient for all of Israel after their escape from Egypt approximately five hundred years earlier.
Illustrated in this painting are small red triangular pyramids adorning the roof of the Temple symbolizing Solomonís injection of Egyptian culture into the Temple via his Egyptian marital alliance and his molten sea with twelve Egyptian style golden oxen.
The construction of the Temple, a noble endeavor, and the construction of Solomonís edifice, a labor intense but not so noble endeavor, together, exacted a huge price from the people of Israel. That price came in the form of very high taxes, both monetary (Kings I; 4:6, 5:22. 5:24 and 9; 15) and physical in the form of years of manual servitude. To rub salt into this open wound, this taxation was unequally shouldered by different social sectors within the society.
Based on the text, there were essentially three social classes; 1) the non-Israelites, 2) the Israelites and 3) The Judeans. The level of taxation was inversely proportional to the individualís position in the social pecking order. Judah, the most socially privileged, in all probability payed very little or no taxes at all. The taxes for these three groups were the following:
1) The non-Israelites were employed as bond servants: "all the people that were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, who were not of the children of Israel; even their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel were not able to utterly destroy, of them did Solomon raise a levy of bondservants unto this day. But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondservants, but they were the men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and the rulers of his chariots and of his horsemen (Kings I, 9:20-22).
2) The Israelites may not have been bondservants but many were servants (see above) taxed into labor, and Yeravam who was Solomonís handpicked overseer and spokesperson (for Joseph i.e. Israel) asked for tax relief from Rehavam when he took over the United Monarchy from Solomon; "And when all Israel saw the King didnít harken onto them, the people answered the King: what portion have we in David? Neither have we an inheritance in the son of Jesse. So Israel departed to its own tents (Ohella). But as for the children that dwelt in the cities of Judah (Oheliba), Rehavam reigned over them. Then King Rehavam sent Adoram who was over the levy, and all Israel stoned him with stones. Rehavam fled to Jerusalem. So Israel rebelled against the house of David to this day and it came to pass when all Israel heard that Yeravam returned they made him King over all Israel" (Kings I, 12:16-20).
3) The Judeans not only stay with Solomon after Israel secedes, they and the Benjamites prepare to go to war with Yeravam/Israel to prevent secession. Clearly the only reason for their fealty must have been that they didnít feel the tax burden as acutely as Israel, if at all (Kings I, 12:22).
We can now understand the true origins of the enmity between Judah and Israel. It
was crude class warfare based on favoritism (cronyism) and economic inequality. This is outlined to a greater degree when Solomonís son takes over and says "And now
whereas my father did burden you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My
father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions" (Kings I, 12:11-12).
It is apparent from this quotation that all was not so serene during Solomonís rule. He chastised Israel with whips like an Egyptian Pharaoh, mimicking all the evil excesses of Egypt. The beginning of the dissolution of Israel and Judah begins with the physical construction of the Temple. Differential taxation based on ethnic and tribal affiliation created a deep fault line between Israel and Judah, and between both of them, and the other peoples in their midst, laying the foundation for the civil war which tore the Empire apart during the reign of Rehavam, Solomonís successor.
How ironic that the construction of the Temple on the one hand forged national unity and pride, while on the other hand, it sowed the seeds of national division and the Templeís ultimate destruction.
The text begins to describe Solomonís dťnouement, after a rather lengthy description of what appears to be a very happy and content kingdom, which it clearly was not. The faÁade slowly falls, and the text describes Solomonís fall from grace as though it arose de novo and unexpectedly, when in fact the stage for his implosion and the monarchyís deconstruction had been set for many years:
"And King Solomon loved many foreign women: in addition to the daughter of Pharaoh, women who are Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Zidonians and Hittite. They are from the nations that God said to the sons of Israel not to go to them, and they should not go to you, because they will turn your heart to other gods. Solomon clinged lovingly to them (This love is described in Song of Songs). He had 700 princess women, and 300 concubines, and his wives turned his heart away" (Kings I, 11: 1-3).
"At the time that Solomon was old, his women turned his heart to other gods, and his heart was no longer SLM (shaleym) with God his God like the heart of David, his father. Solomon went after Astoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians, after Milcam the detestation of the Ammonites. And Solomon did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not go fully after God like David his father. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestation of Moab... and for Molech the detestation of the children Ammon. And so he did for all his foreign wives who offered and sacrificed onto their gods" (Kings I, 11; 4-8). Read it and weep.
After God had spoken to Solomon twice, the last time warning him not to go to other gods, he nevertheless does, and hence God tells Solomon because of this ĎI will tear your kingdom from you and I will give it to your servant. However I wonít do it while youíre alive because of David your father, I will tear it from your son. However, I will not take away the entire kingdom. I will leave one tribe for your son, for the sake of David, and for the sake of Jerusalem that you chose" (Kings I, 11:12-13).
The days of peace come to an abrupt end. Now God provides Solomon with two enemies Hadad the Edomite (Kings I, 11:14) and Rizon son of Elyadah (Kings I, 11:23), the latter who ruled in Damascus and was an adversary to Solomon for the remaining of his days.
Furthermore Jeroboam (Yerovam) the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite (Israelite), a servant of Solomon also lifted a hand against the King (Kings I, 11:26). Solomon saw that Jeroboam was industrious and he gave him charge over all the House of Joseph (to labor and build):
"When Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem Ahijah the Shilonite found him. He was clad in a new garment. Ahija took off the garment and tore it into twelve pieces, and he said to Jeroboam, take ten pieces because this is what God said; Behold I tear the kingdom from Solomon and I will give you ten tribes. One tribe will remain his for the sake of David and Jerusalem. Because he has left me and bowed to Ashtoreth the god of the Zidonians, to Chemosh the god of Moab, to Milcam the god of Ammon, and I will take it from his son. And unto his son I will give one tribe that David my servant have a candle before me in Jerusalem where I chose to place my name" (Kings I, 11:36).
"And I will take you and you will reign over all you desire and you shall be King of Israel. And if you listen to my commandments like David my servant, I will be with you and will build you a loyal house like I built David and I will give you Israel" (Kings I, 11:38).
"And Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam" (Kings I, 11: 40).
Hence this is an almost identical deja vu reenactment of Saul vs. David. It is as though history is now marching backwards. The kingdom that was once transferred from Saul to David is now being transferred from Solomon (Davidís son) to Jeroboam. Solomon turns into Saul, and Jeroboam turns into David. David tore Saulís skirt symbolically representing his acquisition of the monarchy. Likewise Ahiya gives ten torn skirt pieces to Jeroboam symbolizing the transfer of the monarchy from Solomon to him. The transfer of a material object represents a transfer of a bill of sales (in Jewish law this is called a kinyan). Just like Saul wanted to kill David, Solomon now wants to kill Jeroboam.
Just like David escapes to Philistine territory, where Saul fears to tread, so Jeroboam escapes to Egypt where Solomon fears to tread, and stays there until Solomon dies. After Solomon dies, Jeroboam returns to Israel. After all of Israel coronates Rehavam, Solomonís son, Jeroboam and Israel say to him; "Your father heightened our yoke, now lighten the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you".
He then consults his fatherís advisors who advised him to comply with their wishes. He then asked the young children he grew up with who tell him to respond thus: "My little finger is thicker than my fatherís loins. And now whereas my father did burden you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions" (Kings I, 12:11-12).
According to the text, Rehavamís final decision was ordained by God so that he would keep his word with Achiya Hashiloni: "And when all Israel saw the King didnít harken onto them, the people answered the King what portion have we in David? Neither have we an inheritance in the son of Jesse. So Israel departed to its own tents (Ohella). But as for the children that dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehavam reigned over them. Then King Rehavam sent Adoram who was over the levy and all Israel stoned him with stones. Rehavam fled to Jerusalem. So Israel rebelled against the house of David to this day and it came to pass when all Israel heard that Jeroboam returned they made him King over all Israel".
Rehavam wasnít going to take this lying down so he assembles an army of Judah and Benjamin to get his kingdom back. Shemaya a man of God (Kings I, 12; 22) tells them not to fight, and they donít.
Yeravam fearing that if Israel makes pilgrimages to the Temple to sacrifice, that he will lose their hearts and their loyalty, so he makes two golden calves and sets one up at Beth el and the other in Dan: "Behold thy god of Israel who brought you out of Egypt" (Kings I, 12; 28). Also: "He made priests that were not from Levi".
Rehavam was no better theologically than Yeravam, and for that matter, no better than his father Solomon: "He also built pillars and high places and Asherim on every high hill and under every leafy tree" (Kings I, 14:23).
Thus, all the future events (relative to Solomon) just described above were set in motion by all of Solomonís actions: his worshipping of other gods and his over burdensome wage and labor taxation imposed differentially based on tribal /ethnic affiliation.
What was the ultimate purpose of these economic actions? It was all aimed at building a grand empire, accumulating great wealth, acquiring power, honor, and prestige, not to mention the need to satiate a very huge edifice complex, and compensate for an even bigger Egyptian inferiority complex.
How is it possible that the same Solomon who builds a Temple for God out of pure love and devotion, and who is filled with wisdom and understanding is capable of turning around and worshiping other gods including Moloch who demands child sacrifice? What was going on in Solomonís mind? Did he turn from good to evil? Did his wives turn his heart as is stated?
Perhaps there is another more complimentary explanation for Solomonís behavior which if nowhere else, existed and was justified, in his own deeply analytical mind.
The key to understanding Solomonís actions with respect to other religions may be found in a portion of his oration upon dedication of the Temple:
"Moreover concerning the stranger (nachri) that is not of your people Israel, when he shall come out of a far country for your name, when he hears of your great name and your strong hand and outstretched arm and he shall come and pray toward this house, you will hear in the heavens your dwelling place and do all that the stranger calls to you for, that all the peoples of the earth may know your name to fear you as does your people Israel, and to know that your name is called upon this house that I have built" (Kings I, 8:41-43).
It is possible that Solomon may have had a very ecumenical understanding of world religions, and not surprisingly was far ahead of his times. Unfortunately his people who observed him most likely didnít share his point of view.
What after all was Solomonís family background? From many generations ago, he is a descendant of Ruth the Moabite. Moab himself, was a son of Lot who was Abrahamís uncle, and hence Solomonís distant relative. Edom (Esau) the son of Isaac is a great uncle many times removed, and hence the Edomites are also his cousins. His mother Bat Sheva was originally married to a Hittite, and may herself have been a Hittite. Out of all his sons he chooses Rehavam, the son of an Ammonite to be his successor. Ammon himself was a brother of Moab, a son of Lot who was Abrahamís uncle, and hence also a distant relative. Thus Solomon is part of a long and mixed Middle Eastern pedigree. Most likely so were most of his subjects. Why should he not marry Moabites, Edomites and Hittites when they are embedded within his own family tree?
It is very likely that Solomon did not look down on other peoples, and tried to explore and understand them and their theological perspectives. Despite this, he hypocritically still treated the Ammonites, Hittites, and Perizzites within his own borders as second class citizens and turned them into bondservants. He was, as they say, a man of his times. Similarly, Thomas Jefferson, another wise man, analogously conflicted, believed that all men were created equal, yet he had many slaves, not giving it a second thought, and fathered children with his slave mistress, Sally Hemings.
In Solomonís great wisdom and understanding, and even his ability to communicate with animals, grasp nature, and eloquently philosophize, he most likely surmised that there are many and multiple theological beliefs, and that there are multiple paths to God.
It is quite conceivable that what motivated Solomon to sacrifice to other gods was a public display to all the peoples around him that he respected their religions, and that when they will come to the Temple (as mentioned above), they should respect his God and his religion. His sacrificial acts to other gods may not have represented any adherence to these religious beliefs but were rather public displays of respect to all the nations around him. He most likely thought that these displays and his willingness to marry wives from all the surrounding nations would lead to building bridges between cultures, thereby diminishing conflict, creating peace, forging economic ties, and creating a stable peaceful empire capable of living harmoniously with peoples and nations of other faiths. In other words he thought he was being an outstanding and thoughtful monarch.
He would most likely have felt quite comfortable in modern times building interfaith bridges and being involved in shared ecumenical prayer services. It appears that he was quite successful in accomplishing these goals for the most part.
However, whatever good intentions he had within his own mind, they were not evident to any casual observer who was incapable of seeing what he saw, and therefore he was a terrible role model that would lead to the dissolution of his nation-state which was birthed and founded on Mosaic laws and the laws of God transmitted at Sinai.
Anyone who witnessed Solomon sacrificing to other gods, including the Prophet Achijah the Shilonite, could only interpret what they saw in one way, and one way alone; that he truly believes in other gods and therefore sacrifices to them. This interpretation is corroborated by the fact that both Rehavam and Yeravam felt free to worship other gods, severely diluting Judaism. Most likely they substantially modeled their behavior on Solomon. Wasnít Solomon, after all, the wisest King in history for all times? Isnít whatís good for him also good for me?
This is further corroborated by the text itself which states that Solomonís heart was no longer whole, and that his wives turned him away from the worship of God. In fact his wives and his worshipping other gods were part and parcel of him reaching out and forging bonds will all other peoples. His goal was to be a Universalist, a King for all peoples; not just for Israel but for all the countries around him. He did this, not only because thatís how his brilliant mind saw things, but also because he thought that it made good politics, that it was the essence of governing well. Despite his grand intelligence he did not see what everybody else around him saw, that for all intents and appearances, he simply worshipped other gods, and forsook his own.
Another major cause of his downfall was his own intellectual blindness in not realizing that selectively overtaxing the people of Israel vs. Judah would lead to significant resentment. He assumed that everyone would understand that the way he governed was the natural order of things. Why resent what the King requests when after all, has he not created a perfect peace? "And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree" (Kings I, 5:5). These words are written in Hebrew on the bottom left of this painting underneath the molten sea.
Little did he suspect that he was fomenting a brutal civil war, and that he was architect to the destruction of his monarchy and his people. He was simply too clever by half. Surely his advisors suspected or knew what was going on. None of them, however, had the temerity to approach him. By what right could they advise the smartest guy in the room? How could their meager intelligences attempt to compete with that of Solomonís? In all likelihood Solomonís hubris made him unapproachable. No one, in other words, was going to dare tell the Emperor he had no clothes.
Also notable is that Rehavam, Solomonís son, was his chosen anointed successor. Not one of Rehavamís other siblings, half- siblings or step siblings, of which there must have been thousands are even mentioned. There were no inter-sibling rivalries for the throne. There were no Absalom-like or Adonijahu -like rebellions. Whosoever was appointed by Solomon was the future King, period, no questions asked.
In this painting written on Solomonís lower yellow hem of his robe is the quaint Yiddish aphorism which accurately describes Solomon, and is imbued with the numerical theme of this text: "Heís (simultaneously) a complete fool and HALF a Prophet" ("Ehrs a gantza naar und halb a nuhvie"). This implies that Prophets are all a little crazy (foolish) because they see visions that no one else does, and likewise fools in their foolishness must be touched by prophesy. Solomon was a prophet, and in both the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastics which he authored, he philosophizes about the nature of wisdom and foolishness.
Solomon was certainly no fool. He did however; have significant intellectual blind spots (making him HALF a fool). He is living proof that brilliant people donít necessarily make great leaders. Humble people of lesser intelligence with clearer vision and focused objectives probably trump arrogant geniuses at governing well.
Shakespeare famously opined in his play Julius Caesar that "the evil that men do, lives after them, and the good is oft interred with their bones". In the perspective of history we remember mostly the good things about Solomon. His wise Solomonic judgments, his proverbs, philosophical discourses and songs, his grand intellect which was revered by the Queen of Sheba and everyone else, his authorship of three books included in the Bibleís Writings (Ketuvim), his construction of the Temple providing the monarchy with a physical theological anchor, and his actions of thrusting Israel onto the world stage and heralding a golden age.
Let all those good things be remembered and celebrated.
Let all the bad things be interred with his bones.
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