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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading
In 1 Kings 10 we read of how Solomon's fame drew people from all over the earth to come and hear the wisdom of Yahweh and see the marvels of his Heaven-blessed kingdom. Among these was the Queen of Sheba, who journeyed to Jerusalem to check the stories out firsthand. After she had seen it all and had heard the wisdom of his teachings for herself, she was amazed and glorified Yahweh:
"And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.
Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be Yahweh thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because Yahweh loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice."
Clearly, Solomon didn't just amaze this queen with his wealth. He did not take the credit to himself. For the Queen of Sheba rightly glorifies God for all that He has done for Israel through Solomon.
Solomon's palace was amazing indeed, according to Scripture, archaeological finds, and historical writings. So what was it like?
The royal palace of Solomon took twice as long to build as the Temple, and was much more complicated. In fact, it was a whole complex of buildings, with many different functions. According to the Bible, there was:
- the cedar-pillared House of the Forest of Lebanon, perhaps an audience hall
- a treasury or strongroom
- the Judgement Hall where Solomon’s magnificent ivory throne stood
- a special palace for the daughter of Pharaoh, Solomon’s most high-born wife
- living quarters for Solomon’s multitude of wives and children. Solomon cemented alliances with neighbouring territories by marrying their rulers’ daughters, and by giving his own daughters in marriage to governors of provinces (see the stories of Basemath and Taphath).
- Aside from all of the other building projects that Solomon undertook, he also built a throne for himself the likes of which the world had never seen before or since (2 Chronicles 9:17-19 & 1 Kings 10:18-20). The throne was inlaid with ivory and overlaid with gold and it also had several unique physical features.
2 Chronicles 9:17-19 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and arms on either side by the place of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps; there was not the like made in any kingdom. (JPS)
1 Kings 10:18-20 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the finest gold. There were six steps to the throne, and the top of the throne was round behind; and there were arms on either side by the place of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps; there was not the like made in any kingdom. (JPS)Some sources tell us that the floor of King Solomon's palace was glass, which appeared like water. When the Queen of Sheba entered, she lifted her skirts, preparing to cross what she thought was water, only to learn it was glass (Qur’an 27:44).
And the floor wasn't the only wonder in King Solomon's palace. King Solomon's throne was the most wonderful throne that any king ever sat upon. It was fashioned of ivory and covered with gold. It was set with rubies, sapphires, emeralds and other precious stones that shone with the most brilliant, the most dazzling, the most fascinating hues and colors.
Six steps led to the seat, and each step (according to Jewish teaching) served to remind the king of one of the six special commandments that the kings of Israel were commanded to observe.
Gold beasts lined the steps ascending to Solomon's throne and on the back side, rising over the throne stood an exquisite menorah of pure gold decorated with golden cups, knobs, flowers, blossoms and petals. On each side of the Menorah seven branches turned upwards. On the branches of one side were engraved the names of the seven fathers of the world: Adam, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Yitzchak (Hebrew for Isaac) and Yaakov (Hebrew for Jacob), with Iyov (Job) in the center. On the other seven branches of the Menorah the names of the most pious men were engraved: Levi, Kehot and Amram, Moshe (Moses) and Aaron, Eldad and Medad, with Chur in the center.
On each side of the throne there was a special golden chair, one for the High Priest, and one for the Segan (assistant High Priest), surrounded by seventy golden chairs for the seventy elders of the Sanhedrin (Supreme Court Judges). Twenty-four golden vines formed a huge canopy above the throne (http://www.chabad.org/holidays/purim/article_cdo/aid/1345/jewish/King-Solomons-Throne.htm).
What a witness! When Yahweh blessed Solomon, it caused his renown to be known throughout the world. And when people came to see for themselves, they found Yahweh.
I am sorry to say that Solomon didn't keep Yahweh as his center. He didn't always live to God's glory. That's the sad part of the story. But, while he did, the whole earth was impacted with the knowledge and glory of God!
Did you know that when God blesses His people, He does so not only because He likes to bless us, but also as a witness? When Yahweh opens the Windows of Heaven and pours out His blessings upon our lives, it should bring Him glory and cause those around us to worship Him.
And the more we glorify Yahweh for the blessings He sends, the more He is free to increase those blessings.