Archaeology and Solomon’s Empire -- By: Merrill Frederick Unger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 111:442 (Apr 1954)
Article: Archaeology and Solomon’s Empire
Author: Merrill Frederick Unger

Archaeology and Solomon’s Empire

Merrill F. Unger

[Editor’s Note: The following article by Dr. Unger is composed of excerpts from a chapter of his manuscript, “Archaeology and the Old Testament,” which was awarded First Prize in the 1953 Christian Textbook Contest of Zondervan Publishing House, and it is printed in Bibliotheca Sacra by permission. The prize-winning volume is scheduled for publication in the summer of 1954 and can be ordered through the Seminary Book Room, 3909 Swiss Avenue, Dallas, Texas.]

David had subdued neighboring nations which showed themselves hostile to the Israelite monarchy, so that Solomon’s long rule of forty years was threatened by no formidable enemies and became celebrated as an era of almost unbroken peace. David named his son Solomon, signifying “peaceable,” in anticipation of the tranquility of the latter’s reign.

The wide extent of David’s conquests (2 Sam 8:1–18) and the greatness of Solomon’s empire are emphatically indicated in the Biblical notices (1 Kings 4:21). Yet in the light of the great empires of Assyria on the Euphrates, the Hittites on the Halys, and Egypt on the Nile, which had existed during centuries of Old Testament history, nothing would seem more unlikely than that such a splendid and sprawling kingdom as Solomon’s would have been built up or maintained. Archaeological discoveries, however, plainly show that precisely during this period from about 1100-900 B.C. the power of all of these great nations was providentially either in eclipse or abeyance, so that Solomon could rule with the splendor and wisdom divinely promised him (1 Kings 3:13).

Only against the city-state of Hamath on the Orontes River in the extreme north of his kingdom, a very insignificant power in comparison to the great Assyrian, Hittite and

Egyptian empires, is it said that Solomon went to war. He was obliged to do so to secure this portion of his frontier. Accordingly he took Hamath and built store cities in this region (2 Chron 8:3–4).

Excavations and discoveries at the ancient location of Hamath 120 miles north of Damascus have demonstrated that the city had a long and interesting occupation, particularly as a Hittite center, as evidenced by the recovery of a large number of Hittite inscriptions from this site as early as 1871.1 Toi, its king in the time of David, established ties of amity with Israel, and congratulated David on his defeat of H...

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