sickly, the elder of Elimelech the Bethlehemite's two sons by
Naomi. He married Ruth and died childless (Ruth 1:2, 5; 4:9,
10), in the land of Moab.
breach, the elder of the twin sons of Judah (Gen. 38:29). From
him the royal line of David sprang (Ruth 4:18-22). "The chief of
all the captains of the host" was of the children of Perez (1
Chr. 27:3; Matt. 1:3).
a name; renown, the first mentioned of the sons of Noah (Gen.
5:32; 6:10). He was probably the eldest of Noah's sons. The
words "brother of Japheth the elder" in Gen. 10:21 are more
correctly rendered "the elder brother of Japheth," as in the
Revised Version. Shem's name is generally mentioned first in the
list of Noah's sons. He and his wife were saved in the ark
(7:13). Noah foretold his preeminence over Canaan (9:23-27). He
died at the age of six hundred years, having been for many years
contemporary with Abraham, according to the usual chronology.
The Israelitish nation sprang from him (Gen. 11:10-26; 1 Chr.
an overseer. In apostolic times, it is quite manifest that there
was no difference as to order between bishops and elders or
presbyters (Acts 20:17-28; 1 Pet. 5:1, 2; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3).
The term bishop is never once used to denote a different office
from that of elder or presbyter. These different names are
simply titles of the same office, "bishop" designating the
function, namely, that of oversight, and "presbyter" the dignity
appertaining to the office. Christ is figuratively called "the
bishop [episcopos] of souls" (1 Pet. 2:25).
a name frequently used in the Old Testament as denoting a person
clothed with authority, and entitled to respect and reverence
(Gen. 50:7). It also denoted a political office (Num. 22:7). The
"elders of Israel" held a rank among the people indicative of
authority. Moses opened his commission to them (Ex. 3:16). They
attended Moses on all important occasions. Seventy of them
attended on him at the giving of the law (Ex. 24:1). Seventy
also were selected from the whole number to bear with Moses the
burden of the people (Num. 11:16, 17). The "elder" is the
keystone of the social and political fabric wherever the
patriarchal system exists. At the present day this is the case
among the Arabs, where the sheik (i.e., "the old man") is the
highest authority in the tribe. The body of the "elders" of
Israel were the representatives of the people from the very
first, and were recognized as such by Moses. All down through
the history of the Jews we find mention made of the elders as
exercising authority among the people. They appear as governors
(Deut. 31:28), as local magistrates (16:18), administering
justice (19:12). They were men of extensive influence (1 Sam.
30:26-31). In New Testament times they also appear taking an
active part in public affairs (Matt. 16:21; 21:23; 26:59).
The Jewish eldership was transferred from the old dispensation
to the new. "The creation of the office of elder is nowhere
recorded in the New Testament, as in the case of deacons and
apostles, because the latter offices were created to meet new
and special emergencies, while the former was transmitted from
the earlies times. In other words, the office of elder was the
only permanent essential office of the church under either
The "elders" of the New Testament church were the "pastors"
(Eph. 4:11), "bishops or overseers" (Acts 20:28), "leaders" and
"rulers" (Heb. 13:7; 1 Thess. 5:12) of the flock. Everywhere in
the New Testament bishop and presbyter are titles given to one
and the same officer of the Christian church. He who is called
presbyter or elder on account of his age or gravity is also
called bishop or overseer with reference to the duty that lay
upon him (Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17-28; Phil. 1:1).
double fruitfulness ("for God had made him fruitful in the land
of his affliction"). The second son of Joseph, born in Egypt
(Gen. 41:52; 46:20). The first incident recorded regarding him
is his being placed, along with his brother Manasseh, before
their grandfather, Jacob, that he might bless them (48:10; comp.
27:1). The intention of Joseph was that the right hand of the
aged patriarch should be placed on the head of the elder of the
two; but Jacob set Ephraim the younger before his brother,
"guiding his hands wittingly." Before Joseph's death, Ephraim's
family had reached the third generation (Gen. 50:23).
my Lord is Jehovah. (1.) The fourth son of David (2 Sam. 3:4).
After the death of his elder brothers, Amnon and Absalom, he
became heir-apparent to the throne. But Solomon, a younger
brother, was preferred to him. Adonijah, however, when his
father was dying, caused himself to be proclaimed king. But
Nathan and Bathsheba induced David to give orders that Solomon
should at once be proclaimed and admitted to the throne.
Adonijah fled and took refuge at the altar, and received pardon
for his conduct from Solomon on the condition that he showed
himself "a worthy man" (1 Kings 1:5-53). He afterwards made a
second attempt to gain the throne, but was seized and put to
death (1 Kings 2:13-25).
(2.) A Levite sent with the princes to teach the book of the
law to the inhabitants of Judah (2 Chr. 17:8).
(3.) One of the "chiefs of the people" after the Captivity
the elder brother of Seneca the philosopher, who was tutor and
for some time minister of the emperor Nero. He was "deputy",
i.e., proconsul, as in Revised Version, of Achaia, under the
emperor Claudius, when Paul visited Corinth (Acts 18:12). The
word used here by Luke in describing the rank of Gallio shows
his accuracy. Achaia was a senatorial province under Claudius,
and the governor of such a province was called a "proconsul." He
is spoken of by his contemporaries as "sweet Gallio," and is
described as a most popular and affectionate man. When the Jews
brought Paul before his tribunal on the charge of persuading
"men to worship God contrary to the law" (18:13), he refused to
listen to them, and "drave them from the judgment seat" (18:16).
snorting. (1.) The father of Terah, who was the father of
Abraham (Gen. 11:22-25; Luke 3:34).
(2.) A son of Terah, and elder brother of Abraham (Gen. 11:26,
27; Josh. 24:2, R.V.). He married Milcah, the daughter of his
brother Haran, and remained in the land of his nativity on the
east of the river Euphrates at Haran (Gen. 11:27-32). A
correspondence was maintained between the family of Abraham in
Canaan and the relatives in the old ancestral home at Haran till
the time of Jacob. When Jacob fled from Haran all intercourse
between the two branches of the family came to an end (Gen.
31:55). His grand-daughter Rebekah became Isaac's wife (24:67).
father of Him; i.e., "worshipper of God", the second of the sons
of Aaron (Ex. 6:23; Num. 3:2; 26:60; 1 Chr. 6:3). Along with his
three brothers he was consecrated to the priest's office (Ex.
28:1). With his father and elder brother he accompanied the
seventy elders part of the way up the mount with Moses (Ex.
24:1,9). On one occasion he and Nadab his brother offered
incense in their censers filled with "strange" (i.e., common)
fire, i.e., not with fire taken from the great brazen altar
(Lev. 6:9, etc.), and for this offence they were struck dead,
and were taken out and buried without the camp (Lev. 10:1-11;
comp. Num. 3:4; 26:61; 1 Chr. 24:2). It is probable that when
they committed this offence they were intoxicated, for
immediately after is given the law prohibiting the use of wine
or strong drink to the priests.
a name applied (1) to any ancestor (Deut. 1:11; 1 Kings 15:11;
Matt. 3:9; 23:30, etc.); and (2) as a title of respect to a
chief, ruler, or elder, etc. (Judg. 17:10; 18:19; 1 Sam. 10:12;
2 Kings 2:12; Matt. 23:9, etc.). (3) The author or beginner of
anything is also so called; e.g., Jabal and Jubal (Gen. 4:20,
21; comp. Job 38:28).
Applied to God (Ex. 4:22; Deut. 32:6; 2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 89:27,
28, etc.). (1.) As denoting his covenant relation to the Jews
(Jer. 31:9; Isa. 63:16; 64:8; John 8:41, etc.).
(2.) Believers are called God's "sons" (John 1:12; Rom. 8:16;
Matt. 6:4, 8, 15, 18; 10:20, 29). They also call him "Father"
(Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:4)
expulsion. (1.) The eldest son of Levi (1 Chr. 6:16, 17, 20, 43,
62, 71; 15:7)=GERSHON (q.v.).
(2.) The elder of the two sons of Moses born to him in Midian
(Ex. 2:22; 18:3). On his way to Egypt with his family, in
obedience to the command of the Lord, Moses was attacked by a
sudden and dangerous illness (4:24-26), which Zipporah his wife
believed to have been sent because he had neglected to
circumcise his son. She accordingly took a "sharp stone" and
circumcised her son Gershom, saying, "Surely a bloody husband
art thou to me", i.e., by the blood of her child she had, as it
were, purchased her husband, had won him back again.
(3.) A descendant of Phinehas who returned with Ezra from
Babylon (Ezra 8:2).
(4.) The son of Manasseh (Judg. 18:30), in R.V. "of Moses."
Herod Agrippa I.
son of Aristobulus and Bernice, and grandson of Herod the Great.
He was made tetrarch of the provinces formerly held by Lysanias
II., and ultimately possessed the entire kingdom of his
grandfather, Herod the Great, with the title of king. He put the
apostle James the elder to death, and cast Peter into prison
(Luke 3:1; Acts 12:1-19). On the second day of a festival held
in honour of the emperor Claudius, he appeared in the great
theatre of Caesarea. "The king came in clothed in magnificent
robes, of which silver was the costly brilliant material. It was
early in the day, and the sun's rays fell on the king, so that
the eyes of the beholders were dazzled with the brightness which
surrounded him. Voices here and there from the crowd exclaimed
that it was the apparition of something divine. And when he
spoke and made an oration to them, they gave a shout, saying,
'It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.' But in the midst
of this idolatrous ostentation an angel of God suddenly smote
him. He was carried out of the theatre a dying man." He died
(A.D. 44) of the same loathsome malady which slew his
grandfather (Acts. 12:21-23), in the fifty-fourth year of his
age, having reigned four years as tetrarch and three as king
over the whole of Israel. After his death his kingdom came
under the control of the prefect of Syria, and Israel was now
fully incorporated with the empire.
(1.) The son of Zebedee and Salome; an elder brother of John the
apostle. He was one of the twelve. He was by trade a fisherman,
in partnership with Peter (Matt. 20:20; 27:56). With John and
Peter he was present at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark
9:2), at the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37-43), and in
the garden with our Lord (14:33). Because, probably, of their
boldness and energy, he and John were called Boanerges, i.e.,
"sons of thunder." He was the first martyr among the apostles,
having been beheaded by King Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1, 2), A.D.
44. (Comp. Matt. 4:21; 20:20-23).
(2.) The son of Alphaeus, or Cleopas, "the brother" or near
kinsman or cousin of our Lord (Gal. 1:18, 19), called James "the
Less," or "the Little," probably because he was of low stature.
He is mentioned along with the other apostles (Matt. 10:3; Mark
3:18; Luke 6:15). He had a separate interview with our Lord
after his resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7), and is mentioned as one of
the apostles of the circumcision (Acts 1:13). He appears to have
occupied the position of head of the Church at Jerusalem, where
he presided at the council held to consider the case of the
Gentiles (Acts 12:17; 15:13-29: 21:18-24). This James was the
author of the epistle which bears his name.
who makes to forget. "God hath made me forget" (Heb. nashshani),
Gen. 41:51. (1.) The elder of the two sons of Joseph. He and his
brother Ephraim were afterwards adopted by Jacob as his own sons
(48:1). There is an account of his marriage to a Syrian (1 Chr.
7:14); and the only thing afterwards recorded of him is, that
his grandchildren were "brought up upon Joseph's knees" (Gen.
50:23; R.V., "born upon Joseph's knees") i.e., were from their
birth adopted by Joseph as his own children.
The tribe of Manasseh was associated with that of Ephraim and
Benjamin during the wanderings in the wilderness. They encamped
on the west side of the tabernacle. According to the census
taken at Sinai, this tribe then numbered 32,200 (Num. 1:10, 35;
2:20, 21). Forty years afterwards its numbers had increased to
52,700 (26:34, 37), and it was at this time the most
distinguished of all the tribes.
The half of this tribe, along with Reuben and Gad, had their
territory assigned them by Moses on the east of the Jordan
(Josh. 13:7-14); but it was left for Joshua to define the limits
of each tribe. This territory on the east of Jordan was more
valuable and of larger extent than all that was allotted to the
nine and a half tribes in the land of Israel. It is sometimes
called "the land of Gilead," and is also spoken of as "on the
other side of Jordan." The portion given to the half tribe of
Manasseh was the largest on the east of Jordan. It embraced the
whole of Bashan. It was bounded on the south by Mahanaim, and
extended north to the foot of Lebanon. Argob, with its sixty
cities, that "ocean of basaltic rocks and boulders tossed about
in the wildest confusion," lay in the midst of this territory.
The whole "land of Gilead" having been conquered, the two and
a half tribes left their wives and families in the fortified
cities there, and accompanied the other tribes across the
Jordan, and took part with them in the wars of conquest. The
allotment of the land having been completed, Joshua dismissed
the two and a half tribes, commending them for their heroic
service (Josh. 22:1-34). Thus dismissed, they returned over
Jordan to their own inheritance. (See ED ¯T0001125.)
On the west of Jordan the other half of the tribe of Manasseh
was associated with Ephraim, and they had their portion in the
very centre of Israel, an area of about 1,300 square miles,
the most valuable part of the whole country, abounding in
springs of water. Manasseh's portion was immediately to the
north of that of Ephraim (Josh. 16). Thus the western Manasseh
defended the passes of Esdraelon as the eastern kept the passes
of the Hauran.
(2.) The only son and successor of Hezekiah on the throne of
Judah. He was twelve years old when he began to reign (2 Kings
21:1), and he reigned fifty-five years (B.C. 698-643). Though he
reigned so long, yet comparatively little is known of this king.
His reign was a continuation of that of Ahaz, both in religion
and national polity. He early fell under the influence of the
heathen court circle, and his reign was characterized by a sad
relapse into idolatry with all its vices, showing that the
reformation under his father had been to a large extent only
superficial (Isa. 7:10; 2 Kings 21:10-15). A systematic and
persistent attempt was made, and all too successfully, to banish
the worship of Jehovah out of the land. Amid this wide-spread
idolatry there were not wanting, however, faithful prophets
(Isaiah, Micah) who lifted up their voice in reproof and in
warning. But their fidelity only aroused bitter hatred, and a
period of cruel persecution against all the friends of the old
religion began. "The days of Alva in Holland, of Charles IX. in
France, or of the Covenanters under Charles II. in Scotland,
were anticipated in the Jewish capital. The streets were red
with blood." There is an old Jewish tradition that Isaiah was
put to death at this time (2 Kings 21:16; 24:3, 4; Jer. 2:30),
having been sawn asunder in the trunk of a tree. Psalms 49, 73,
77, 140, and 141 seem to express the feelings of the pious amid
the fiery trials of this great persecution. Manasseh has been
called the "Nero of Israel."
Esarhaddon, Sennacherib's successor on the Assyrian throne,
who had his residence in Babylon for thirteen years (the only
Assyrian monarch who ever reigned in Babylon), took Manasseh
prisoner (B.C. 681) to Babylon. Such captive kings were usually
treated with great cruelty. They were brought before the
conqueror with a hook or ring passed through their lips or their
jaws, having a cord attached to it, by which they were led. This
is referred to in 2 Chr. 33:11, where the Authorized Version
reads that Esarhaddon "took Manasseh among the thorns;" while
the Revised Version renders the words, "took Manasseh in
chains;" or literally, as in the margin, "with hooks." (Comp. 2
The severity of Manasseh's imprisonment brought him to
repentance. God heard his cry, and he was restored to his
kingdom (2 Chr. 33:11-13). He abandoned his idolatrous ways, and
enjoined the people to worship Jehovah; but there was no
thorough reformation. After a lengthened reign extending through
fifty-five years, the longest in the history of Judah, he died,
and was buried in the garden of Uzza, the "garden of his own
house" (2 Kings 21:17, 18; 2 Chr. 33:20), and not in the city of
David, among his ancestors. He was succeeded by his son Amon.
In Judg. 18:30 the correct reading is "Moses," and not
"Manasseh." The name "Manasseh" is supposed to have been
introduced by some transcriber to avoid the scandal of naming
the grandson of Moses the great lawgiver as the founder of an
remover or increaser. (1.) The elder of the two sons of Jacob by
Rachel (Gen. 30:23, 24), who, on the occasion of his birth,
said, "God hath taken away [Heb. 'asaph] my reproach." "The Lord
shall add [Heb. yoseph] to me another son" (Gen. 30:24). He was
a child of probably six years of age when his father returned
from Haran to Canaan and took up his residence in the old
patriarchal town of Hebron. "Now Israel loved Joseph more than
all his children, because he was the son of his old age," and he
"made him a long garment with sleeves" (Gen. 37:3, R.V. marg.),
i.e., a garment long and full, such as was worn by the children
of nobles. This seems to be the correct rendering of the words.
The phrase, however, may also be rendered, "a coat of many
pieces", i.e., a patchwork of many small pieces of divers
When he was about seventeen years old Joseph incurred the
jealous hatred of his brothers (Gen. 37:4). They "hated him, and
could not speak peaceably unto him." Their anger was increased
when he told them his dreams (37:11).
Jacob desiring to hear tidings of his sons, who had gone to
Shechem with their flocks, some 60 miles from Hebron, sent
Joseph as his messenger to make inquiry regarding them. Joseph
found that they had left Shechem for Dothan, whither he followed
them. As soon as they saw him coming they began to plot against
him, and would have killed him had not Reuben interposed. They
ultimately sold him to a company of Ishmaelite merchants for
twenty pieces (shekels) of silver (about $2, 10s.), ten pieces
less than the current value of a slave, for "they cared little
what they had for him, if so be they were rid of him." These
merchants were going down with a varied assortment of
merchandise to the Egyptian market, and thither they conveyed
him, and ultimately sold him as a slave to Potiphar, an "officer
of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard" (Gen. 37:36). "The Lord
blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake," and Potiphar
made him overseer over his house. At length a false charge
having been brought against him by Potiphar's wife, he was at
once cast into the state prison (39; 40), where he remained for
at least two years. After a while the "chief of the cupbearers"
and the "chief of the bakers" of Pharaoh's household were cast
into the same prison (40:2). Each of these new prisoners dreamed
a dream in the same night, which Joseph interpreted, the event
occurring as he had said.
This led to Joseph's being remembered subsequently by the
chief butler when Pharaoh also dreamed. At his suggestion Joseph
was brought from prison to interpret the king's dreams. Pharaoh
was well pleased with Joseph's wisdom in interpreting his
dreams, and with his counsel with reference to the events then
predicted; and he set him over all the land of Egypt (Gen.
41:46), and gave him the name of Zaphnath-paaneah. He was
married to Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On, and thus
became a member of the priestly class. Joseph was now about
thirty years of age.
As Joseph had interpreted, seven years of plenty came, during
which he stored up great abundance of corn in granaries built
for the purpose. These years were followed by seven years of
famine "over all the face of the earth," when "all countries
came into Egypt to Joseph to buy corn" (Gen. 41:56, 57; 47:13,
14). Thus "Joseph gathered up all the money that was in the land
of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they
bought." Afterwards all the cattle and all the land, and at last
the Egyptians themselves, became the property of Pharaoh.
During this period of famine Joseph's brethren also came down
to Egypt to buy corn. The history of his dealings with them, and
of the manner in which he at length made himself known to them,
is one of the most interesting narratives that can be read (Gen.
42-45). Joseph directed his brethren to return and bring Jacob
and his family to the land of Egypt, saying, "I will give you
the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the
land. Regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land is
yours." Accordingly Jacob and his family, to the number of
threescore and ten souls, together with "all that they had,"
went down to Egypt. They were settled in the land of Goshen,
where Joseph met his father, and "fell on his neck, and wept on
his neck a good while" (Gen. 46:29).
The excavations of Dr. Naville have shown the land of Goshen
to be the Wady Tumilat, between Ismailia and Zagazig. In Goshen
(Egyptian Qosem) they had pasture for their flocks, were near
the Asiatic frontier of Egypt, and were out of the way of the
Egyptian people. An inscription speaks of it as a district given
up to the wandering shepherds of Asia.
Jacob at length died, and in fulfilment of a promise which he
had exacted, Joseph went up to Canaan to bury his father in "the
field of Ephron the Hittite" (Gen. 47:29-31; 50:1-14). This was
the last recorded act of Joseph, who again returned to Egypt.
"The 'Story of the Two Brothers,' an Egyptian romance written
for the son of the Pharaoh of the Oppression, contains an
episode very similar to the Biblical account of Joseph's
treatment by Potiphar's wife. Potiphar and Potipherah are the
Egyptian Pa-tu-pa-Ra, 'the gift of the sun-god.' The name given
to Joseph, Zaphnath-paaneah, is probably the Egyptian
Zaf-nti-pa-ankh, 'nourisher of the living one,' i.e., of the
Pharaoh. There are many instances in the inscriptions of
foreigners in Egypt receiving Egyptian names, and rising to the
highest offices of state."
By his wife Asenath, Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim
(Gen. 41:50). Joseph having obtained a promise from his brethren
that when the time should come that God would "bring them unto
the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob,"
they would carry up his bones out of Egypt, at length died, at
the age of one hundred and ten years; and "they embalmed him,
and he was put in a coffin" (Gen. 50:26). This promise was
faithfully observed. Their descendants, long after, when the
Exodus came, carried the body about with them during their forty
years' wanderings, and at length buried it in Shechem, in the
parcel of ground which Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor
(Josh. 24:32; comp. Gen. 33:19). With the death of Joseph the
patriarchal age of the history of Israel came to a close.
The Pharaoh of Joseph's elevation was probably Apepi, or
Apopis, the last of the Hyksos kings. Some, however, think that
Joseph came to Egypt in the reign of Thothmes III. (see PHARAOH
¯T0002923), long after the expulsion of the Hyksos.
The name Joseph denotes the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh
in Deut. 33:13-17; the kingdom of Israel in Ezek. 37:16, 19,
Amos 5:6; and the whole covenant people of Israel in Ps. 81:4.
(2.) One of the sons of Asaph, head of the first division of
sacred musicians (1 Chr. 25:2, 9).
(3.) The son of Judah, and father of Semei (Luke 3:26). Other
two of the same name in the ancestry of Christ are also
mentioned (3:24, 30).
(4.) The foster-father of our Lord (Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23). He
lived at Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 2:4). He is called a "just
man." He was by trade a carpenter (Matt. 13:55). He is last
mentioned in connection with the journey to Jerusalem, when
Jesus was twelve years old. It is probable that he died before
Jesus entered on his public ministry. This is concluded from the
fact that Mary only was present at the marriage feast in Cana of
Galilee. His name does not appear in connection with the scenes
of the crucifixion along with that of Mary (q.v.), John 19:25.
(5.) A native of Arimathea, probably the Ramah of the Old
Testament (1 Sam. 1:19), a man of wealth, and a member of the
Sanhedrim (Matt. 27:57; Luke 23:50), an "honourable counsellor,
who waited for the kingdom of God." As soon as he heard the
tidings of Christ's death, he "went in boldly" (lit. "having
summoned courage, he went") "unto Pilate, and craved the body of
Jesus." Pilate having ascertained from the centurion that the
death had really taken place, granted Joseph's request, who
immediately, having purchased fine linen (Mark 15:46), proceeded
to Golgotha to take the body down from the cross. There,
assisted by Nicodemus, he took down the body and wrapped it in
the fine linen, sprinkling it with the myrrh and aloes which
Nicodemus had brought (John 19:39), and then conveyed the body
to the new tomb hewn by Joseph himself out of a rock in his
garden hard by. There they laid it, in the presence of Mary
Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joses, and other women, and rolled
a great stone to the entrance, and departed (Luke 23:53, 55).
This was done in haste, "for the Sabbath was drawing on" (comp.
(6.) Surnamed Barsabas (Acts 1:23); also called Justus. He was
one of those who "companied with the apostles all the time that
the Lord Jesus went out and in among them" (Acts 1:21), and was
one of the candidates for the place of Judas.
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.