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pageId="iii"Oxford Bible Atlas Contextualizes the stories and lands of the Bible through user-friendly maps and illustrations.

Solomon

The account of Solomon's reign suggests that his first steps were to remove any potential rivals to his position (1 Kgs. 2 ). This piece of political ‘wisdom’ precedes the account of his famous prayer for wisdom at the high place of Gibeon (1 Kgs. 3 ). Solomon is presented as having brought about peace, wealth, and prestige. He set up an administrative system for his kingdom, established a policy of forced labour for his building projects, exploited his land's strategic position for the purposes of trade, and made a number of political marriages. The bulk of the kingdom was divided into twelve administrative districts over which twelve officials were placed (1 Kgs. 4: 7–19 ). The districts are listed as: (I) the hill country of Ephraim; (II) Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth‐shemesh, Elon, Beth‐hanan; (III) Arubboth, including Socoh and the land of Hepher; (IV) Naphath‐dor—the coastal region around Dor; (V) Taanach, Megiddo, Beth‐shean, Abel‐meholah, Jokmeam; (VI) Ramoth‐gilead, including Havvoth‐jair, Argob (in Bashan); (VII) Mahanaim; (VIII) Naphtali; (IX) Asher, Bealoth; (X) Issachar; (XI) Benjamin; (XII) Gilead and the land of Sihon and Og between the Arnon and the Jabbok. (See numbers on the accompanying map; apart from the description of the districts in 1 Kgs. 4 , there is no information as to the extent of each of these districts.) It is noteworthy that Judah seems to have been excluded, although there is an additional comment that ‘there was one official in the land of Judah’ (1 Kgs. 4: 19b ).

To Solomon are credited a number of major building activities, notably the construction in Jerusalem of a temple and a royal palace (1 Kgs. 6–7 ). He also used forced labour to rebuild or fortify several key strategic cities, Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, Lower Beth‐horon, Baalath, and Tamar (1 Kgs. 9: 15–18 ). Excavations at some of these sites have provided evidence of the extent of these activities, though it is not always possible to be certain which structures are to be assigned to Solomon. The fortified gateways at Gezer, Hazor, and Megiddo, built very much to the same design, have been thought to reflect activity of Solomon's instigation. Store cities and cities for his chariots, horses, and cavalry were also established (1 Kgs. 4: 26; 9: 19 ). He is recorded as having been involved in the importation of horses and chariots from Egypt and Kue (1 Kgs. 10: 26–9 ). Extensive installations at Megiddo were at one time confidently described as ‘Solomon's Stables’, but subsequent excavations have suggested a later date, perhaps the time of Ahab, and the debate continues as to whether they are to be identified as stables or storehouses (see ‘Megiddo’). (Further mention of Solomon's trading activities will be made in the brief discussion of ‘Ancient Trade Routes’ which follows.)

Although the presentation of Solomon's reign is largely one of a time of prosperity and peace, there are references to adversaries. Those named are Hadad the Edomite, Rezon from Zobah and, most significantly, Jeroboam, an Ephraimite who was encouraged to revolt by Ahijah, a prophet from Shiloh, but who was forced to flee to Egypt, taking refuge with Pharaoh Shishak until Solomon's death (1 Kgs. 11: 14–40 ). It was Jeroboam who was to become the king of the northern tribes when, after Solomon's demise, the ‘United Monarchy’ could not be maintained. But descendants of David continued to rule over Judah, beginning with Solomon's son, Rehoboam, until the Babylonian exile. And thereafter, prophets looked forward to a restoration of the United Monarchy under a king of David's line.

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