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Solomon: World Class Ruler or Poor King?

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Solomon: World Class Ruler or Poor King? 1 Kings 1-11 describes the reign of King Solomon as a glorious and well respected ruler of the ancient world. However there are several weaknesses in this belief that the following authors analyze from varying perspectives. It is certain that Solomon wasn't all he was portrayed as. K. Lawson Younger Jr. in his article The Figurative Aspect and the Contextual Method in the Evaluation of the Solomonic Empire (1 Kings 1-11), debates the figurative and ideological aspects of the Solomon biblical narrative. Younger finds fault in the claim of biblical scholars, that the story of Solomon in 1 Kings should be accepted as literally as it is written because of its detailed descriptions of officials and other aspects of the reign of Solomon. He refutes this idea with his belief that the text is loaded with hyperbole and political ideology, and should not be interpreted literally. Younger bases his argument on the language of the ancient Near East of other kingdoms and rulers, and shows that the use of hyperbole was quite frequent and common. On pages 160 and 161 he quotes descriptions of monuments erected by rulers, and phrases like "Nothing like it had ever been made...," and "the likes of which had not existed since the begginning..." ...read more.


Because of this belief he takes a minimalist approach, by dismissing all events that are not backed by evidence. Knauf tears apart the credibility of the claims of glory made by the author of 1 Kings 1-11, with a well-researched assault. The issue that receives the title of his article, that is the enormous amount of copper used to build his temple, is refuted through his proof that Solomon never actually built a temple. Rather, Solomon faded Yahweh away and introduced El as the true God. "Because the historic Solomon never built a temple, he did not need Phoenician craftsmen and expertise for that purpose" (can't make out page number). This is the reason Knauf gives for the descriptions of the temple as being Canaanite in design. He further goes to lengths to disprove completely that 50 tons of copper is unrealistic as well as the 180,000 corvee workers, who Solomon was supposed to have at his disposal. This is done through a historical analysis of the economic and political relationships of the nations in the ancient Near East. In this argument, he discredits the claim that Solomon was wise and well respected by other rulers in the region, as Knauf claims him to be merely a satellite of Egypt. Knauf also makes important use of the concepts of time and relationships between states in the ancient world. ...read more.


Miller, like Knauf, places the time of the authors of 1 Kings 1-11 at around the Exile. He states that the authors would naturally use "royal language"(31) to describe the glory days of Israel's existence. He discredit's Younger's argument with this statement, and further exemplifies some contradictions in his article. While stating these beliefs, Miller maintains that all these conclusions are probable. Also most of the beliefs in dispute, i.e. how well Solomon was respected, are based upon the opinion of the day and can never be proved through scholarship. The description of the reign of King Solomon comes under criticism by all three authors discussed, each coming at the argument from a different angle. Younger concentrates on the ideological aspects of the writing, and the writing of other rulers from the time period. Knauf focuses on the historical evidence, believing that it is the ultimate truth in the matter. Miller takes a less definitive approach and discusses the textual and definitive archaeological evidence. All three conclude that the writings of 1 Kings 1-11 are exaggerated to some degree. Knauf at the extreme believes that it's totally inaccurate, while Younger and Miller believe it is exaggerated to a point. The three arguments present an intricate look at the truth behind the Solomonic history, and one can conclude that Solomon was no world-class ruler of the ancient Near East, nor was he wealthy in terms of the region. The extent of his prominence is one that neither agree on, and no one will ever know for sure. ...read more.

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