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In what ways was Soloman a successful king?

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Introduction

In what ways was Soloman a successful king? John Drane came to the conclusion that 'Judged by the standards of world powers, Solomon was outstandingly successful, the greatest of all Israel's rulers. But judged by the moral and spiritual standards of the covenant, he was a miserable failure.' I agree with Drane in this statement because there were indeed many things Solomon did in his reign that were beneficial to the people and the country. However, for a man working for God, he does not seem to apply the covenant of Yahweh very much to the decisions he makes as king. Previously, during the reign of David, a new kingdom was beginning to be established. The small towns of the tribal confederacy were developing into larger cities throughout the land, noted for their economic and political importance. Israel was growing into a powerful nation, while David's powerful armies were defeating others around it. Therefore, when Solomon became king, he inherited an already large and stable kingdom in a secure position, with relatively large military forces and a reasonably content population. He also had the great example of his own father to follow, unlike Saul previously. However, his Father advises him to follow the word of God, which he does not take much heed of. He did many things within his reign that consolidated not only his own position, but also aided the position of Israel. Solomon was 'born to the purple' (Anderson), and never knew anything but the sheltered, extravagant life of a king's palace. However, it was this influence that made him want to demonstrate his power and wealth to the surrounding nations, therefore both building up the strength as well as the image of Israel. ...read more.

Middle

He also caused friction by apparently having no regard for the old tribal confederacy and putting up the tax borders geographically, deliberately splitting tribes up. Solomon however did collect a considerable amount of income from the taxes he imposed on the caravans that travelled through Israel from Arabia. Solomon's true genius lay in the realm of industry and trade. He was able to recognise the economic significance of his position astraddle the major trade routes. His commercial ventures were numerous and, since foreign trade was largely a royal monopoly, a source of great wealth to the state. Solomon's projects must have meant that thousands more were employed and although were taxed, would still probably been better off. Bright says that 'Israel enjoyed a security and material plenty such as she had never dreamed of before and was never to know again'. The living standards of people would have gone up considerably during Solomon's reign Solomon was particularly renowned for his building projects. The first major building he constructed was his palace on the hill of Zion, which, in total took thirteen years to build. It was mainly constructed by Tyrian craftsmen due to Solomon's alliance with Hiram, the King of Tyre, made previously by his Father David. He paid Hiram with 97000 gallons of olive oil and a considerable amount of grain. 80000 men worked in the quarries and 70000 were burden bearers, some of these were employed under conscription. The palace was often called the 'House of the forest of Lebanon' due to the amount of cedar trees taken for the building of Solomon's home. ...read more.

Conclusion

We are told in 1Kings4 that he had an extensive knowledge of beasts, birds, reptiles and fish, and wisdom in such topics was very highly regarded. The wisdom of Solomon was so infamous that the Queen of Sheba came to visit him and test him with hard questions to test his knowledge and wisdom. For a variety of reasons, there was ill feeling and resentment against the style of Solomon's rule. He established a strong central administration system, with tax districts under the control of an officer. Many people were angered, and felt that they were being led by an elite and privileged group, that went against the notion that all were equal before God. I agree with Drane when he says that 'the old ways were being eroded; instead of twelve tribes serving God, there were twelve districts serving the king'. In many ways Solomon was a successful king: he brought military strength, strong alliances and trading routes, great wealth and efficient central administration. All of these are imperative to a stable and successful kingdom. However Anderson argues that all of this glory and security was achieved through 'harsh measures of exploitation', which is evident through the evidence of taxation and forced labour Solomon inflicted on the country. Drane and Bright both agree that 'He had become like the kings of other nations in every bad sense', and he was 'the embodiment of all a king ought not to be'. Solomon's reign is a controversial one, and although he was successful in many ways, his greed and desire for absolute luxury brought out qualities that led to the disintegration of himself and Israel, particularly as a nation that followed Yahweh. Melanie Sawyer 13.6 1 ...read more.

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