Where Did Solomon’s Gold Go? -- By: Kenneth A. Kitchen

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 07:4 (Autumn 1994)
Article: Where Did Solomon’s Gold Go?
Author: Kenneth A. Kitchen


Where Did Solomon’s Gold Go?

Kenneth A. Kitchena

In the previous article, Alan Millard amply demonstrates that the gold attributed in the Bible to King Solomon was entirely consistent, both in use and extent, with what we know about the ancient Near East. Yet, readers must be led to wonder: If Solomon had all this gold, why haven’t we found it? Where did it go?

The answer is simple: to Egypt!

Soon after Solomon’s death, his kingdom split in two: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Jeroboam ruled in the north and Solomon’s feckless son Rehoboam ruled Judah from Jerusalem.

In the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign, the formidable Egyptian pharaoh Shoshenq I (referred to in the Bible as Shishak) conducted a devastating military campaign in Judah and Israel. According to the Bible, he took with him as booty the Temple and palace treasures:

In the fifth year of Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the Temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made (1 Kgs 14:25–26).

Gifts to the gods recorded by King Osorkon I of Egypt in 921 BC, include an astonishing 383 tons of gold and silver. These fragments from a pillar in a temple at Bubastis show itemized lists of gifts to each god and goddess of Egypt.

This probably occurred in the summer of 925 BC. Within a year or so of his conquest, the formidable Shishak (Shoshenq I) was dead. He was followed on the pharaonic throne in 924 BC by his son, Osorkon I.

Directly after Shishak’s death, and less than a decade after Solomon’s death, Osorkon proudly recorded on a granite pillar in a temple at Bubastis, in the eastern Nile Delta, his own breathtakingly munificent gifts to the gods and goddesses of Egypt. These gifts were for “[all the gods and goddesses of the cities] of Upper and Lower Egypt, from Year 1 (of Osorkon’s reign). .. to Year 4. .. making 3 years, 3 months and 16 days,” that is for the period from 924 to 921 BC.

Only fragments of this long and detailed hieroglyphic text of Osorkon have been found. But these seem to record gifts totaling approximately two million deben of silver, and 2,300,000 deben of gold and silver—at least 383 tons of precious metal given by Osorkon to the gods.1

The crowded lines of the main text give us de...

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