Common in Israel in winter (Ps. 147:16). The snow on the tops
of the Lebanon range is almost always within view throughout the
whole year. The word is frequently used figuratively by the
sacred writers (Job 24:19; Ps. 51:7; 68:14; Isa. 1:18). It is
mentioned only once in the historical books (2 Sam. 23:20). It
was "carried to Tyre, Sidon, and Damascus as a luxury, and
labourers sweltering in the hot harvest-fields used it for the
purpose of cooling the water which they drank (Prov. 25:13; Jer.
18:14). No doubt Herod Antipas, at his feasts in Tiberias,
enjoyed also from this very source the modern luxury of
Among the Egyptians the month of thirty days each was in use
long before the time of the Exodus, and formed the basis of
their calculations. From the time of the institution of the
Mosaic law the month among the Jews was lunar. The cycle of
religious feasts depended on the moon. The commencement of a
month was determined by the observation of the new moon. The
number of months in the year was usually twelve (1 Kings 4:7; 1
Chr. 27:1-15); but every third year an additional month
(ve-Adar) was inserted, so as to make the months coincide with
"The Hebrews and Phoenicians had no word for month save
'moon,' and only saved their calendar from becoming vague like
that of the Moslems by the interpolation of an additional month.
There is no evidence at all that they ever used a true solar
year such as the Egyptians possessed. The latter had twelve
months of thirty days and five epagomenac or odd days.",
Israel Quarterly, January 1889.
a tax imposed by the Romans. The tax-gatherers were termed
publicans (q.v.), who had their stations at the gates of cities,
and in the public highways, and at the place set apart for that
purpose, called the "receipt of custom" (Matt.9: 9; Mark 2:14),
where they collected the money that was to be paid on certain
goods (Matt.17:25). These publicans were tempted to exact more
from the people than was lawful, and were, in consequence of
their extortions, objects of great hatred. The Pharisees would
have no intercourse with them (Matt.5:46, 47; 9:10, 11).
A tax or tribute (q.v.) of half a shekel was annually paid by
every adult Jew for the temple. It had to be paid in Jewish coin
(Matt. 22:17-19; Mark 12:14, 15). Money-changers (q.v.) were
necessary, to enable the Jews who came up to Jerusalem at the
feasts to exchange their foreign coin for Jewish money; but as
it was forbidden by the law to carry on such a traffic for
emolument (Deut. 23:19, 20), our Lord drove them from the temple
(Matt. 21:12: Mark 11:15).
as a mark of hospitality (Gen. 19:3; 2 Sam. 3:20; 2 Kings 6:23);
on occasions of domestic joy (Luke 15:23; Gen. 21:8); on
birthdays (Gen. 40:20; Job 1:4; Matt. 14:6); and on the occasion
of a marriage (Judg. 14:10; Gen. 29:22).
Feasting was a part of the observances connected with the
offering up of sacrifices (Deut. 12:6, 7; 1 Sam. 9:19; 16:3, 5),
and with the annual festivals (Deut. 16:11). "It was one of the
designs of the greater solemnities, which required the
attendance of the people at the sacred tent, that the oneness of
the nation might be maintained and cemented together, by
statedly congregating in one place, and with one soul taking
part in the same religious services. But that oneness was
primarily and chiefly a religious and not merely a political
one; the people were not merely to meet as among themselves, but
with Jehovah, and to present themselves before him as one body;
the meeting was in its own nature a binding of themselves in
fellowship with Jehovah; so that it was not politics and
commerce that had here to do, but the soul of the Mosaic
dispensation, the foundation of the religious and political
existence of Israel, the covenant with Jehovah. To keep the
people's consciousness alive to this, to revive, strengthen, and
perpetuate it, nothing could be so well adapated as these annual
feasts." (See FESTIVALS ¯T0001325.)
(from the Fr. parler, "to speak") denotes an "audience chamber,"
but that is not the import of the Hebrew word so rendered. It
corresponds to what the Turks call a kiosk, as in Judg. 3:20
(the "summer parlour"), or as in the margin of the Revised
Version ("the upper chamber of cooling"), a small room built on
the roof of the house, with open windows to catch the breeze,
and having a door communicating with the outside by which
persons seeking an audience may be admitted. While Eglon was
resting in such a parlour, Ehud, under pretence of having a
message from God to him, was admitted into his presence, and
murderously plunged his dagger into his body (21, 22).
The "inner parlours" in 1 Chr. 28:11 were the small rooms or
chambers which Solomon built all round two sides and one end of
the temple (1 Kings 6:5), "side chambers;" or they may have
been, as some think, the porch and the holy place.
In 1 Sam. 9:22 the Revised Version reads "guest chamber," a
chamber at the high place specially used for sacrificial feasts.
There were daily (Lev. 23), weekly, monthly, and yearly
festivals, and great stress was laid on the regular observance
of them in every particular (Num. 28:1-8; Ex. 29:38-42; Lev.
6:8-23; Ex. 30:7-9; 27:20).
(1.) The septenary festivals were,
(a) The weekly Sabbath (Lev. 23:1-3; Ex. 19:3-30; 20:8-11;
(b) The seventh new moon, or the feast of Trumpets (Num.
(c) The Sabbatical year (Ex. 23:10, 11; Lev. 25:2-7).
(d) The year of jubilee (Lev. 23-35; 25: 8-16; 27:16-25).
(2.) The great feasts were,
(a) The Passover. (b) The feast of Pentecost, or of weeks. (c)
The feast of Tabernacles, or of ingathering.
On each of these occasions every male Israelite was commanded
"to appear before the Lord" (Deut. 27:7; Neh. 8:9-12). The
attendance of women was voluntary. (Comp. Luke 2:41; 1 Sam. 1:7;
2:19.) The promise that God would protect their homes (Ex.
34:23, 24) while all the males were absent in Jerusalem at these
feasts was always fulfilled. "During the whole period between
Moses and Christ we never read of an enemy invading the land at
the time of the three festivals. The first instance on record is
thirty-three years after they had withdrawn from themselves the
divine protection by imbruing their hands in the Saviour's
blood, when Cestius, the Roman general, slew fifty of the people
of Lydda while all the rest had gone up to the feast of
Tabernacles, A.D. 66."
These festivals, besides their religious purpose, had an
important bearing on the maintenance among the people of the
feeling of a national unity. The times fixed for their
observance were arranged so as to interfere as little as
possible with the industry of the people. The Passover was kept
just before the harvest commenced, Pentecost at the conclusion
of the corn harvest and before the vintage, the feast of
Tabernacles after all the fruits of the ground had been gathered
(3.) The Day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month
(Lev. 16:1, 34; 23:26-32; Num. 29:7-11). (See ATONEMENT, DAY OF
Of the post-Exilian festivals reference is made to the feast
of Dedication (John 10:22). This feast was appointed by Judas
Maccabaeus in commemoration of the purification of the temple
after it had been polluted by Antiochus Epiphanes. The "feast of
Purim" (q.v.), Esther 9:24-32, was also instituted after the
Exile. (Cf. John 5:1.)
(1.) Denotes the plate of gold in the front of the high priest's
mitre (Ex. 29:6; 39:30). The same Hebrew word so rendered
(ne'zer) denotes the diadem worn by Saul in battle (2 Sam.
1:10), and also that which was used at the coronation of Joash
(2 Kings 11:12).
(2.) The more general name in Hebrew for a crown is _'atarah_,
meaning a "circlet." This is used of crowns and head ornaments
of divers kinds, including royal crowns. Such was the crown
taken from the king of Ammon by David (2 Sam. 12:30). The crown
worn by the Assyrian kings was a high mitre, sometimes adorned
with flowers. There are sculptures also representing the crowns
worn by the early Egyptian and Persian kings. Sometimes a diadem
surrounded the royal head-dress of two or three fillets. This
probably signified that the wearer had dominion over two or
three countries. In Rev. 12:3; 13:1, we read of "many crowns," a
token of extended dominion.
(3.) The ancient Persian crown (Esther 1:11; 2:17; 6:8) was
called _kether_; i.e., "a chaplet," a high cap or tiara. Crowns
were worn sometimes to represent honour and power (Ezek. 23:42).
They were worn at marriages (Cant. 3:11; Isa. 61:10,
"ornaments;" R.V., "a garland"), and at feasts and public
The crown was among the Romans and Greeks a symbol of victory
and reward. The crown or wreath worn by the victors in the
Olympic games was made of leaves of the wild olive; in the
Pythian games, of laurel; in the Nemean games, of parsley; and
in the Isthmian games, of the pine. The Romans bestowed the
"civic crown" on him who saved the life of a citizen. It was
made of the leaves of the oak. In opposition to all these fading
crowns the apostles speak of the incorruptible crown, the crown
of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10) "that fadeth not away" (1 Pet.
5:4, Gr. amarantinos; comp. 1:4). Probably the word "amaranth"
was applied to flowers we call "everlasting," the "immortal
Entertainments, "feasts," were sometimes connected with a public
festival (Deut. 16:11, 14), and accompanied by offerings (1 Sam.
9:13), in token of alliances (Gen. 26:30); sometimes in
connection with domestic or social events, as at the weaning of
children (Gen. 21:8), at weddings (Gen. 29:22; John 2:1), on
birth-days (Matt. 14:6), at the time of sheep-shearing (2 Sam.
13:23), and of vintage (Judg. 9:27), and at funerals (2 Sam.
3:35; Jer. 16:7).
The guests were invited by servants (Prov. 9:3; Matt. 22:3),
who assigned them their respective places (1 Sam. 9:22; Luke
14:8; Mark 12:39). Like portions were sent by the master to each
guest (1 Sam. 1:4; 2 Sam. 6:19), except when special honour was
intended, when the portion was increased (Gen. 43:34).
The Israelites were forbidden to attend heathenish sacrificial
entertainments (Ex. 34:15), because these were in honour of
false gods, and because at such feast they would be liable to
partake of unclean flesh (1 Cor. 10:28).
In the entertainments common in apostolic times among the
Gentiles were frequent "revellings," against which Christians
were warned (Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21; 1 Pet. 4:3). (See BANQUET
(John 2:1-11) "lasted usually for a whole week; but the cost of
such prolonged rejoicing is very small in the East. The guests
sit round the great bowl or bowls on the floor, the meal usually
consisting of a lamb or kid stewed in rice or barley. The most
honoured guests sit nearest, others behind; and all in eating
dip their hand into the one smoking mound, pieces of the thin
bread, bent together, serving for spoons when necessary. After
the first circle have satisfied themselves, those lower in
honour sit down to the rest, the whole company being men, for
women are never seen at a feast. Water is poured on the hands
before eating; and this is repeated when the meal closes, the
fingers having first been wiped on pieces of bread, which, after
serving the same purpose as table-napkins with us, are thrown on
the ground to be eaten by any dog that may have stolen in from
the streets through the ever-open door, or picked up by those
outside when gathered and tossed out to them (Matt. 15:27; Mark
7:28). Rising from the ground and retiring to the seats round
the walls, the guests then sit down cross-legged and gossip, or
listen to recitals, or puzzle over riddles, light being scantily
supplied by a small lamp or two, or if the night be chilly, by a
smouldering fire of weeds kindled in the middle of the room,
perhaps in a brazier, often in a hole in the floor. As to the
smoke, it escapes as it best may; but indeed there is little of
it, though enough to blacken the water or wine or milk skins
hung up on pegs on the wall. (Comp. Ps. 119:83.) To some such
marriage-feast Jesus and his five disciples were invited at Cana
of Galilee." Geikie's Life of Christ. (See CANA ¯T0000702.)
The Mosaic legislation regarding the poor is specially
important. (1.) They had the right of gleaning the fields (Lev.
19:9, 10; Deut. 24:19,21).
(2.) In the sabbatical year they were to have their share of
the produce of the fields and the vineyards (Ex. 23:11; Lev.
(3.) In the year of jubilee they recovered their property
(4.) Usury was forbidden, and the pledged raiment was to be
returned before the sun went down (Ex. 22:25-27; Deut.
24:10-13). The rich were to be generous to the poor (Deut.
(5.) In the sabbatical and jubilee years the bond-servant was
to go free (Deut. 15:12-15; Lev. 25:39-42, 47-54).
(6.) Certain portions from the tithes were assigned to the
poor (Deut. 14:28, 29; 26:12, 13).
(7.) They shared in the feasts (Deut. 16:11, 14; Neh. 8:10).
(8.) Wages were to be paid at the close of each day (Lev.
In the New Testament (Luke 3:11; 14:13; Acts 6:1; Gal. 2:10;
James 2:15, 16) we have similar injunctions given with reference
to the poor. Begging was not common under the Old Testament,
while it was so in the New Testament times (Luke 16:20, 21,
etc.). But begging in the case of those who are able to work is
forbidden, and all such are enjoined to "work with their own
hands" as a Christian duty (1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:7-13; Eph.
4:28). This word is used figuratively in Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20; 2
Cor. 8:9; Rev. 3:17.
a tenth of the produce of the earth consecrated and set apart
for special purposes. The dedication of a tenth to God was
recognized as a duty before the time of Moses. Abraham paid
tithes to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:6); and Jacob vowed
unto the Lord and said, "Of all that thou shalt give me I will
surely give the tenth unto thee."
The first Mosaic law on this subject is recorded in Lev.
27:30-32. Subsequent legislation regulated the destination of
the tithes (Num. 18:21-24, 26-28; Deut. 12:5, 6, 11, 17; 14:22,
23). The paying of the tithes was an important part of the
Jewish religious worship. In the days of Hezekiah one of the
first results of the reformation of religion was the eagerness
with which the people brought in their tithes (2 Chr. 31:5, 6).
The neglect of this duty was sternly rebuked by the prophets
(Amos 4:4; Mal. 3:8-10). It cannot be affirmed that the Old
Testament law of tithes is binding on the Christian Church,
nevertheless the principle of this law remains, and is
incorporated in the gospel (1 Cor. 9:13, 14); and if, as is the
case, the motive that ought to prompt to liberality in the cause
of religion and of the service of God be greater now than in Old
Testament times, then Christians outght to go beyond the ancient
Hebrew in consecrating both themselves and their substance to
Every Jew was required by the Levitical law to pay three
tithes of his property (1) one tithe for the Levites; (2) one
for the use of the temple and the great feasts; and (3) one for
the poor of the land.
the abbreviated form of Simeon. (1.) One of the twelve apostles,
called the Canaanite (Matt. 10:4; Mark 3:18). This word
"Canaanite" does not mean a native of Canaan, but is derived
from the Syriac word Kanean or Kaneniah, which was the name of a
Jewish sect. The Revised Version has "Cananaean;" marg., "or
Zealot" He is also called "Zelotes" (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13; R.V.,
"the Zealot"), because previous to his call to the apostleship
he had been a member of the fanatical sect of the Zealots. There
is no record regarding him.
(2.) The father of Judas Iscariot (John 6:71; 13:2, 26).
(3.) One of the brothers of our Lord (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3).
(4.) A Pharisee in whose house "a woman of the city which was
a sinner" anointed our Lord's feet with ointment (Luke 7:36-38).
(5.) A leper of Bethany, in whose house Mary anointed our
Lord's head with ointment "as he sat at meat" (Matt. 26:6-13;
(6.) A Jew of Cyrene, in North Africa, then a province of
Libya. A hundred thousand Jews from Israel had been settled
in this province by Ptolemy Soter (B.C. 323-285), where by this
time they had greatly increased in number. They had a synagogue
in Jerusalem for such of their number as went thither to the
annual feasts. Simon was seized by the soldiers as the
procession wended its way to the place of crucifixion as he was
passing by, and the heavy cross which Christ from failing
strength could no longer bear was laid on his shoulders. Perhaps
they seized him because he showed sympathy with Jesus. He was
the "father of Alexander and Rufus" (Matt. 27:32). Possibly this
Simon may have been one of the "men of Cyrene" who preached the
word to the Greeks (Acts 11:20).
(7.) A sorcerer of great repute for his magical arts among the
Samaritans (Acts 8:9-11). He afterwards became a professed
convert to the faith under the preaching of Philip the deacon
and evangelist (12, 13). His profession was, however, soon found
to be hollow. His conduct called forth from Peter a stern rebuke
(8:18-23). From this moment he disappears from the Church's
history. The term "Simony," as denoting the purchase for money
of spiritual offices, is derived from him.
(8.) A Christian at Joppa, a tanner by trade, with whom Peter
on one occasion lodged (Acts 9:43).
(9.) Simon Peter (Matt. 4:18). See PETER ¯T0002911.
The psalms are the production of various authors. "Only a
portion of the Book of Psalms claims David as its author. Other
inspired poets in successive generations added now one now
another contribution to the sacred collection, and thus in the
wisdom of Providence it more completely reflects every phase of
human emotion and circumstances than it otherwise could." But it
is specially to David and his contemporaries that we owe this
precious book. In the "titles" of the psalms, the genuineness of
which there is no sufficient reason to doubt, 73 are ascribed to
David. Peter and John (Acts 4:25) ascribe to him also the second
psalm, which is one of the 48 that are anonymous. About
two-thirds of the whole collection have been ascribed to David.
Psalms 39, 62, and 77 are addressed to Jeduthun, to be sung
after his manner or in his choir. Psalms 50 and 73-83 are
addressed to Asaph, as the master of his choir, to be sung in
the worship of God. The "sons of Korah," who formed a leading
part of the Kohathite singers (2 Chr. 20:19), were intrusted
with the arranging and singing of Ps. 42, 44-49, 84, 85, 87, and
In Luke 24:44 the word "psalms" means the Hagiographa, i.e.,
the holy writings, one of the sections into which the Jews
divided the Old Testament. (See BIBLE ¯T0000580.)
None of the psalms can be proved to have been of a later date
than the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, hence the whole collection
extends over a period of about 1,000 years. There are in the New
Testament 116 direct quotations from the Psalter.
The Psalter is divided, after the analogy of the Pentateuch,
into five books, each closing with a doxology or benediction:
(1.) The first book comprises the first 41 psalms, all of
which are ascribed to David except 1, 2, 10, and 33, which,
though anonymous, may also be ascribed to him.
(2.) Book second consists of the next 31 psalms (42-72), 18 of
which are ascribed to David and 1 to Solomon (the 72nd). The
rest are anonymous.
(3.) The third book contains 17 psalms (73-89), of which the
86th is ascribed to David, the 88th to Heman the Ezrahite, and
the 89th to Ethan the Ezrahite.
(4.) The fourth book also contains 17 psalms (90-106), of
which the 90th is ascribed to Moses, and the 101st and 103rd to
(5.) The fifth book contains the remaining psalms, 44 in
number. Of these, 15 are ascribed to David, and the 127th to
Ps. 136 is generally called "the great hallel." But the Talmud
includes also Ps. 120-135. Ps. 113-118, inclusive, constitute
the "hallel" recited at the three great feasts, at the new moon,
and on the eight days of the feast of dedication.
"It is presumed that these several collections were made at
times of high religious life: the first, probably, near the
close of David's life; the second in the days of Solomon; the
third by the singers of Jehoshaphat (2 Chr. 20:19); the fourth
by the men of Hezekiah (29, 30, 31); and the fifth in the days
The Mosaic ritual makes no provision for the service of song
in the worship of God. David first taught the Church to sing the
praises of the Lord. He first introduced into the ritual of the
tabernacle music and song.
Divers names are given to the psalms. (1.) Some bear the
Hebrew designation _shir_ (Gr. ode, a song). Thirteen have this
title. It means the flow of speech, as it were, in a straight
line or in a regular strain. This title includes secular as well
as sacred song.
(2.) Fifty-eight psalms bear the designation (Heb.) _mitsmor_
(Gr. psalmos, a psalm), a lyric ode, or a song set to music; a
sacred song accompanied with a musical instrument.
(3.) Ps. 145, and many others, have the designation (Heb.)
_tehillah_ (Gr. hymnos, a hymn), meaning a song of praise; a
song the prominent thought of which is the praise of God.
(4.) Six psalms (16, 56-60) have the title (Heb.) _michtam_
(5.) Ps. 7 and Hab. 3 bear the title (Heb.) _shiggaion_
peaceful, (Heb. Shelomoh), David's second son by Bathsheba,
i.e., the first after their legal marriage (2 Sam. 12). He was
probably born about B.C. 1035 (1 Chr. 22:5; 29:1). He succeeded
his father on the throne in early manhood, probably about
sixteen or eighteen years of age. Nathan, to whom his education
was intrusted, called him Jedidiah, i.e., "beloved of the Lord"
(2 Sam. 12:24, 25). He was the first king of Israel "born in the
purple." His father chose him as his successor, passing over the
claims of his elder sons: "Assuredly Solomon my son shall reign
after me." His history is recorded in 1 Kings 1-11 and 2 Chr.
1-9. His elevation to the throne took place before his father's
death, and was hastened on mainly by Nathan and Bathsheba, in
consequence of the rebellion of Adonijah (1 Kings 1:5-40).
During his long reign of forty years the Hebrew monarchy gained
its highest splendour. This period has well been called the
"Augustan age" of the Jewish annals. The first half of his reign
was, however, by far the brighter and more prosperous; the
latter half was clouded by the idolatries into which he fell,
mainly from his heathen intermarriages (1 Kings 11:1-8; 14:21,
Before his death David gave parting instructions to his son (1
Kings 2:1-9; 1 Chr. 22:7-16; 28). As soon as he had settled
himself in his kingdom, and arranged the affairs of his
extensive empire, he entered into an alliance with Egypt by the
marriage of the daughter of Pharaoh (1 Kings 3:1), of whom,
however, nothing further is recorded. He surrounded himself with
all the luxuries and the external grandeur of an Eastern
monarch, and his government prospered. He entered into an
alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre, who in many ways greatly
assisted him in his numerous undertakings. (See HIRAM
For some years before his death David was engaged in the
active work of collecting materials (1 Chr. 29:6-9; 2 Chr.
2:3-7) for building a temple in Jerusalem as a permanent abode
for the ark of the covenant. He was not permitted to build the
house of God (1 Chr. 22:8); that honour was reserved to his son
Solomon. (See TEMPLE ¯T0003610.)
After the completion of the temple, Solomon engaged in the
erection of many other buildings of importance in Jerusalem and
in other parts of his kingdom. For the long space of thirteen
years he was engaged in the erection of a royal palace on Ophel
(1 Kings 7:1-12). It was 100 cubits long, 50 broad, and 30 high.
Its lofty roof was supported by forty-five cedar pillars, so
that the hall was like a forest of cedar wood, and hence
probably it received the name of "The House of the Forest of
Lebanon." In front of this "house" was another building, which
was called the Porch of Pillars, and in front of this again was
the "Hall of Judgment," or Throne-room (1 Kings 7:7; 10:18-20; 2
Chr. 9:17-19), "the King's Gate," where he administered justice
and gave audience to his people. This palace was a building of
great magnificence and beauty. A portion of it was set apart as
the residence of the queen consort, the daughter of Pharaoh.
From the palace there was a private staircase of red and scented
sandal wood which led up to the temple.
Solomon also constructed great works for the purpose of
securing a plentiful supply of water for the city (Eccl. 2:4-6).
He then built Millo (LXX., "Acra") for the defence of the city,
completing a line of ramparts around it (1 Kings 9:15, 24;
11:27). He erected also many other fortifications for the
defence of his kingdom at various points where it was exposed to
the assault of enemies (1 Kings 9:15-19; 2 Chr. 8:2-6). Among
his great undertakings must also be mentioned the building of
Tadmor (q.v.) in the wilderness as a commercial depot, as well
as a military outpost.
During his reign Israel enjoyed great commercial
prosperity. Extensive traffic was carried on by land with Tyre
and Egypt and Arabia, and by sea with Spain and India and the
coasts of Africa, by which Solomon accumulated vast stores of
wealth and of the produce of all nations (1 Kings 9:26-28;
10:11, 12; 2 Chr. 8:17, 18; 9:21). This was the "golden age" of
Israel. The royal magnificence and splendour of Solomon's court
were unrivalled. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred
concubines, an evidence at once of his pride, his wealth, and
his sensuality. The maintenance of his household involved
immense expenditure. The provision required for one day was
"thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal,
ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an
hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallow-deer, and
fatted fowl" (1 Kings 4:22, 23).
Solomon's reign was not only a period of great material
prosperity, but was equally remarkable for its intellectual
activity. He was the leader of his people also in this uprising
amongst them of new intellectual life. "He spake three thousand
proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake
of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the
hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts,
and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes" (1 Kings
His fame was spread abroad through all lands, and men came
from far and near "to hear the wisdom of Solomon." Among others
thus attracted to Jerusalem was "the queen of the south" (Matt.
12:42), the queen of Sheba, a country in Arabia Felix. "Deep,
indeed, must have been her yearning, and great his fame, which
induced a secluded Arabian queen to break through the immemorial
custom of her dreamy land, and to put forth the energy required
for braving the burdens and perils of so long a journey across a
wilderness. Yet this she undertook, and carried it out with
safety." (1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chr. 9:1-12.) She was filled with
amazement by all she saw and heard: "there was no more spirit in
her." After an interchange of presents she returned to her
But that golden age of Jewish history passed away. The bright
day of Solomon's glory ended in clouds and darkness. His decline
and fall from his high estate is a sad record. Chief among the
causes of his decline were his polygamy and his great wealth.
"As he grew older he spent more of his time among his
favourites. The idle king living among these idle women, for
1,000 women, with all their idle and mischievous attendants,
filled the palaces and pleasure-houses which he had built (1
Kings 11:3), learned first to tolerate and then to imitate their
heathenish ways. He did not, indeed, cease to believe in the God
of Israel with his mind. He did not cease to offer the usual
sacrifices in the temple at the great feasts. But his heart was
not right with God; his worship became merely formal; his soul,
left empty by the dying out of true religious fervour, sought to
be filled with any religious excitement which offered itself.
Now for the first time a worship was publicly set up amongst the
people of the Lord which was not simply irregular or forbidden,
like that of Gideon (Judg. 8:27), or the Danites (Judg. 18:30,
31), but was downright idolatrous." (1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings
This brought upon him the divine displeasure. His enemies
prevailed against him (1 Kings 11:14-22, 23-25, 26-40), and one
judgment after another fell upon the land. And now the end of
all came, and he died, after a reign of forty years, and was
buried in the city of David, and "with him was buried the
short-lived glory and unity of Israel." "He leaves behind him
but one weak and worthless son, to dismember his kingdom and
disgrace his name."
"The kingdom of Solomon," says Rawlinson, "is one of the most
striking facts in the Biblical history. A petty nation, which
for hundreds of years has with difficulty maintained a separate
existence in the midst of warlike tribes, each of which has in
turn exercised dominion over it and oppressed it, is suddenly
raised by the genius of a soldier-monarch to glory and
greatness. An empire is established which extends from the
Euphrates to the borders of Egypt, a distance of 450 miles; and
this empire, rapidly constructed, enters almost immediately on a
period of peace which lasts for half a century. Wealth,
grandeur, architectural magnificence, artistic excellence,
commercial enterprise, a position of dignity among the great
nations of the earth, are enjoyed during this space, at the end
of which there is a sudden collapse. The ruling nation is split
in twain, the subject-races fall off, the pre-eminence lately
gained being wholly lost, the scene of struggle, strife,
oppression, recovery, inglorious submission, and desperate
effort, re-commences.", Historical Illustrations.