Solomon And Israel’s Golden Age Part I - Solomon’s Temple -- By: Clifford A. Wilson
BSP 1:2 (Spring 1972) p. 43
Solomon And Israel’s Golden Age
Part I - Solomon’s Temple
Jewish people today look back on Solomon’s long reign from about 961 to 922 B.C. as their “golden age”. Archaeology has brought to light much background information about this time of prosperity.
South of Israel the great power through the centuries had been Egypt. To the northeast, the Assyrians were the mighty oppressors. When Solomon lived, both the Egyptians and the Assyrians were ruled by men who were not able to maintain the greatness of their predecessors. The weak Tanite Dynasty controlled Egypt, and Tiglath-Pileser II reigned in Assyria from 966 to 935 B.C., a notoriously weak period in Assyrian history. As a result, Israel, the buffer state between these two great powers, was able to prosper under the wise leadership of Solomon. Solomon’s name means “peace” and during his reign over Israel there was no major war.
Solomon and the Phoenicians
Another nearby nation was Phoenicia, on the seacoast. Archaeology endorses the Israelite association with these people as recorded in the Bible. At one time, it was claimed that the Phoenicians were not strong at this time in history and that the Bible had exaggerated their importance. We now know that the Bible presents a remarkably accurate record of these ancient seafaring people. This was an era of the greatest commercial expansion that the Phoenicians had ever known. They established colonies as far west as Sardinia. This is but one of the evidences that has caused scholars to recognize that the earlier criticism against the Biblical references to Solomon’s background must be revised.
Phoenician Influence in Solomon’s Buildings
Phoenician influence was dominant in the plans of Solomon’s palace and Temple. The late Professor W.F. Albright summarized this in these words:
“Solomon launched out into an elaborate series of building operations. .. Throughout Phoenician influence is dominant — in the plan of palace and Temple; in the details of hewing, laying courses and quoin [corner] construction which characterize Solomonic masonry in sharpest contrast
BSP 1:2 (Spring 1972) p. 44
to the masonry of Saul and David.” (THE BIBLICAL PERIOD FROM ABRAHAM TO EZRA, p. 55.)
Professor Albright goes on to describe the architectural features used by Solomon. Under Solomon, there was great development in many spheres. There was, in fact, extraordinary material and cultural progress during his long reign of peace.
One interesting passage on which archaeology has thrown light is I Kings 7:12:
“And the ...
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