I Kings – Chapter 9

Bob (I Mean Sol) the Builder

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

After the Temple was completed, G-d appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had in Gibeon. G-d repeated his promise that if Solomon would serve Him as purely as David did, then his descendants would hold the throne securely, forever. But, if they turn away from G-d, He would make an example of them. The Temple would be destroyed and its site would be a topic of conversation. “How could G-d do this to the people who served Him?” people will ask. “Because they ignored G-d and followed other gods.”

It took twenty years to build the Temple and Solomon’s palace. King Hiram of Tyre provided trees and gold. Solomon gave him 20 cities in the Galilee as a gift. (The corresponding verse in II Chronicles chapter 8 says that Solomon gave Hiram 20 cities; apparently they traded cities.) Hiram found the cities he was given to be inferior, and he told Solomon so. He then sent Solomon 120 talents of gold. (A kikar – “talent” – is 3,000 shekel – about 150 pounds. That’s about 18,000 pounds of gold!) Solomon and Hiram were such good friends that they could have an honest difference of opinion about the quality of Solomon’s gift without it affecting their relationship.

Solomon built a lot of things: the Temple, his palace, the Millo (an open area around Jerusalem, possibly used as a landfill), the walls of Jerusalem, various cities (including Gezer, which was a city conquered by his father-in-law, the Pharaoh, which Solomon rebuilt), and various cities for storage and military use. Solomon drafted the descendants of the Canaanite nations who remained in the land to work on these projects. Many Jewish citizens volunteered, but they were not drafted for labor; they were soldiers. Pharaoh’s daughter moved into the home that Solomon built for her and Solomon closed the area of the Millo near her palace, to reduce local traffic. (This did not sit well with some people, as we shall see.)

Solomon regularly offered sacrifices at the Temple. He had a ship (or, perhaps, a fleet of ships) in the Red Sea, near Edom. His friend Hiram sent ships to help Solomon bring 420 talents (around 63,000 pounds) of gold from the land of Ophir.

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