1 Kings 10


Solomon’s Wisdom Demonstrated (10:1-29)

The Queen of Sheba

      • When the Queen of Sheba heard about Solomon’s fame (fame due to the name of Yahweh), she came to test him with difficult questions. She arrived in Jerusalem with a great display of pomp, bringing with her camels carrying spices, a very large quantity of gold, and precious stones. She visited Solomon and talked with him about everything that was on her mind. So Solomon answered all of her questions; there was nothing too difficult for the king to explain to her.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “The queen likely heard tales of Solomon’s wisdom and wealth because of his trading ventures to Ophir…Sheba, located in southwestern Arabia (modern Yemen), was a notably fertile commercial center. The trading center of the ancient Sabeans encompassed great swaths of territory, including Syria, Africa, and India. Arabian literature is famous for its riddles and proverbs. The queen tested Solomon’s wisdom and explored perplexities of her own.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds, “It is not clear whether the queen herself is a ruler or she has been dispatched by her husband on a diplomatic venture. Later Assyrian contracts with Arabia often dealt with powerful queens…It’s location (Sheba) is likely to be in the vicinity of Yemen…The journey is 1,400 miles long and would have taken several months.”

      • When the queen of Sheba saw all of Solomon’s wisdom, the house he had built, the food on his table, the organization of his officials, the attending servants in their attire, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he offered at Yahweh’s house, it took her breath away. She told the king, “The report I heard in my own country of your words and your wisdom is true! I didn’t believe it until I came and saw with my own eyes. In fact, I wasn’t even told the half of it! Your wisdom and prosperity far exceed the report I heard. How happy are your men and how happy are your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom. May Yahweh your God be blessed! He delighted in you and placed you on Israel’s throne. Because of Yahweh’s eternal love for Israel, He has made you king to carry out justice and righteousness.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “The queen was satisfied with Solomon’s wisdom. He answered all her questions well, and she was overwhelmed by the applied wisdom in his building activities, well-organized administration and staff, and commitment to his God. Jesus commended the queen’s search for the truth while condemning the Pharisees and teachers of religious law who failed to recognize him- the one who was greater than Solomon (Matt 12:42).”

      • Then she gave the king 4 ½ tons of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. The quantity of spices that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon has never been matched. Hiram’s ships brought gold, a large quantity of sandalwood, and precious stones from Ophir. The king used the sandalwood to make supports for Yahweh’s house and for the royal house, as well as harps and lyres for the musicians. No one has seen so much of this sandalwood to this day. King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba everything she wanted and asked for, besides what he had already freely offered her from his bounty. Then she and all of her attendants returned to her own country.

        • In reference to the wood brought from Ophir, many translations refer to it as “almugwood.” ESV Archaeology Study Bible explains, “Almug wood of the sweet-smelling red sandalwood tree was native to Ophir…It is mentioned in the Alalakh tablets as having been used in the construction of expensive furniture.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Arabian traders dealt in spices such as frankincense and myrrh. Both were used for medicinal purposes; frankincense was also used in the sacred incense (Exod 30:34-38; Lev 2:2), and myrrh was used both for perfume and for embalming the dead. These spices and gold were presented to Jesus by wise men from eastern lands (Matt 2:1-11).”

Solomon’s Great Wealth

      • Solomon received 25 tons of gold annually, not including what came from merchants, traders, Arabian kings, and the governors of the territories.

        • The Biblical measurement of gold is given in talents. Using this measurement, Solomon receives 666 talents annually. This leads to the following point which Guzik elaborates upon, “This speaks not only to the great wealth of Solomon, but it also makes him the only other person in the Bible associated with the number 666…The other Biblical connection to 666 is the end-times world dictator and opponent of God and His people often known as the Antichrist (Revelation 13:18). In fact, the Revelation passage specifically says that the number 666 is the number of a man, and the man may be Solomon…This isn’t to say that Solomon was the Antichrist or that the coming Antichrist will be some strange reincarnation of Solomon. But it may indicate that the Antichrist may not be someone purely evil from the very beginning. Instead, he may be like Solomon – a good man corrupted.”

        • Guzik adds, “Solomon received more than 666 talents of gold a year. The 666 talents was just his beginning salary…The writer of 1 Kings gives us a warning signal here. He assumes that we know of the instructions for future kings of Israel in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. He assumes we know verse 17 of that passage, which says: nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. God blessed Solomon with great riches, but Solomon allowed that blessing to turn into a danger because he disobediently multiplied silver and gold for himself.”

      • King Solomon made 200 shields from hammered gold with 15 pounds of gold used in each shield. He also made 300 small shields from hammered gold with about 4 pounds of gold used in each shield. The king put them in the House of the Lebanon Forest.

        • These shields made beautiful displays in the House of the Forest of Lebanon, but they were of no use in battle. Gold was too heavy and too soft to be used as a metal for effective shields. This shows Solomon had the image of a warrior king, but without the substance.” (Guzik)

      • The king also made a large ivory throne and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps leading up to it, and the back of it had a rounded top. There were armrests on either side of the seat and a lion standing beside each of the armrests. There were 12 lions on the 6 steps, one lion at each end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made in any other kingdom.

      • All of King Solomon’s cups were made of gold and all of the utensils in the House of the Lebanon Forest were made of pure gold. Nothing was made with silver because silver wasn’t considered valuable in Solomon’s time. The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with Hiram’s fleet. Once every three years the fleet would return bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

        • Some translations refer to the “trading ships” as “ships of Tarshish.” ESV Archaeology Study Bible notes, “Tarshish refers either to a distant port, perhaps in Spain, Cilicia, or North Africa, or to a specific type of large cargo ship. The context seems to suggest the latter.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Archaeology provides ample evidence that kings imported such creatures. Apparently these animals were desired for their novelty and exotic nature and because they reflected conquest of distant lands.”

      • With respect to wealth and wisdom, Solomon surpassed all the other kings of the earth. Everyone in the world wanted to visit Solomon to hear his God-given wisdom. Year after year, visitors brought gifts: items of silver and gold, clothing, weapons, spices, horses, and mules.

      • Solomon accumulated chariots and horses. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses which he stationed in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. The king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as abundant as sycamore fig trees are in the Judean foothills. Solomon imported his horses from Egypt and Kue- the king’s traders bought them from Kue. They imported chariots from Egypt for about 15 pounds of silver each and horses for about 4 pounds each. They also exported chariots and horses to all the kings of the Hittites and to the kings of Syria.

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes, “Solomon’s dominance of the Levant trade routes brought him into contact with Egypt in the south and Kue in the north, the Neo-Hittite kingdom on the coastal plain below the Amanus and Taurus Mountains in what is today south-central Turkey. Through conquest or alliance (it is unclear which), Solomon controlled both Syria and the entrance to Egypt. From this position of strength he was able to broker horses from the region of Cilicia and chariots from Egypt, not to mention the spice trade from Arabia and lucrative products from Mesopotamia that reached the Mediterranean through Tadmor, Syria, Galilee and Phoenicia.”

      • ESV Study Bible adds, “The accumulation of silver and horses, as well as gold, is forbidden by Deut 17:16-17…The significant addition to the theme here is the detail that Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt (10:28). All but one of the instructions about kingship in Duet 17:16-17 have thus been violated by Solomon. That remaining one (he must not take many wives) will be taken up in 1 Kings 11.”

Click here to go to chapter 11