The fame and wealth of Solomon

Chapter 9

The fame and wealth of Solomon – 2 Chronicles 9:1-31

The visit of the queen of Sheba – 2 Chronicles 9:1-12

v1 The queen of the country called Sheba heard about Solomon’s fame. And she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. She came with a large group of officials and servants. They had many camels that carried *spices, a lot of gold and precious stones. She came to Solomon. And she talked with him about everything that she was thinking about. v2 Solomon answered all her questions. Nothing was too hard for him to explain to her. v3 The queen of Sheba saw that Solomon was very wise. She saw the palace that he had built. v4 She saw all the food on his table. She saw his many officers and the palace servants. They all had good clothes. Even the servants who served Solomon’s wine had good clothes. She saw all the *sacrifices by fire that he gave in the *LORD’s *temple. All these things impressed her so much that she felt weak.

v5 She said to the king, ‘In my own country, I heard a report about you. I heard about what you have done and about your wisdom. And all that I heard was true. v6 I did not believe the report until I came here. Now I have seen with my own eyes that it was true. The report did not tell me about even half of your wisdom. You are much greater than what I have heard. v7 Your men are very happy! Your servants are very happy! They are always in front of you and they hear your wisdom. v8 I praise the *LORD your God. It pleased him to make you the king of *Israel. He has made you the king to rule for the *LORD your God. Your God loves *Israel and he desires to support the *Israelites for all time. Therefore, he has placed you on his *throne to rule as king over them. You will be a good judge. And you will do what is right.’

v9 Then she gave 120 *talents of gold to the king. And she gave a large quantity of *spices and precious stones to him. There had never been such *spices as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

v10 Hiram’s men and Solomon’s men brought gold from Ophir. Also they brought to him *algum wood and precious stones. v11 The king used *algum wood to make steps for the *LORD’s *temple and for his own palace. Also, he used *algum wood to make *harps and *lyres for the musicians. Nobody in Judah had ever seen such things as these.

v12 King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all that she desired. He gave to her all that she asked for. He gave to her more than she had brought to him. Then she left him. With her officers and servants, she returned to her own country.

Verses 1-4 Sheba was a country near Israel. It was on both sides of the Red Sea where it joins the Gulf (bay) of Arabia. It was in the modern countries called Yemen, Djibouti and east Ethiopia. The *kingdom called Sheba was famous because of its trade in gold and *spices.

The visit of the queen of Sheba was perhaps for the purposes of trade. Perhaps she wanted to protect the trade from Sheba to *Israel. The ships of Hiram and Solomon were perhaps trading with Sheba.

But the main reason for the queen’s visit was that she had heard about Solomon’s wisdom. She had many questions that she wanted to ask him. She discussed with him all the difficult problems that she had. And he was able to answer all her questions. Solomon was very wise (1 Kings 4:29-34). People then considered that wisdom was very important. This wisdom was not just knowledge about facts. It was also practical wisdom about such matters as life and politics. We can read examples of such wisdom in the Book of Proverbs.

The queen saw all that Solomon had done. She saw how wealthy he was. The amount and the luxury of the food on his table impressed her. The clothes that even his servants wore astonished her. She saw the ceremonies in the *temple. The result of all this made her feel so small.

Verses 5-8 The queen had to admit how great Solomon was. Solomon was much greater than she had heard in her own country. His wisdom was greater than the reports that had come to Sheba. Also, she believed that the *LORD was the cause of Solomon’s greatness. She believed that the *LORD had put Solomon on the *throne to rule *Israel. She could see that the *LORD loved *Israel. And the *LORD had made Solomon able to be a good king over his people.

Verse 9 Before the queen left *Israel, she gave gifts to Solomon. She gave to him 120 *talents of gold. In addition to this, she gave to him *spices and precious stones.

Verses 10-11 The queen of Sheba gave gold and precious stones to Solomon. And Hiram’s men with Solomon’s men brought more gold and precious stones to him. They went every three years to trade for these. Also, these men brought this *algum wood to Solomon. We do not know what this wood was. But clearly, it was special and expensive. The trees that supplied this wood did not grow in *Israel.

Verse 12 King Solomon gave gifts to the queen of Sheba. He gave her even more gifts than she had brought to him. In addition, he gave to her all that she desired. This may have included a good trade agreement.

The wealth of Solomon – 2 Chronicles 9:13-28

v13 Solomon received 666 *talents of gold each year. v14 In addition to that, he received more from merchants and traders. Also all the kings of Arabia and the rulers of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon.

v15 King Solomon made 200 large gold *shields. His workmen hammered 600 *shekels of gold to make each large *shield. v16 Also, he made 300 smaller *shields. The workmen hammered 300 *shekels of gold to make each small *shield. The king put all these *shields in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.

v17 The king built a large *throne of *ivory and he covered it with pure gold. v18 The *throne had 6 steps and on top of them was a gold shelf for the king’s feet. On both sides of the *throne were places for his arms to rest. Also, at each side of the *throne, there stood a model of a lion. v19 And 12 models of lions stood on the 6 steps. That is, one model of a lion stood at each end of each step. Nobody had made anything like this for any other *kingdom. v20 All Solomon’s cups were gold. And all the dishes in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was silver. In Solomon’s time, people did not think that silver was valuable. v21 The king’s ships of Tarshish sailed with the servants of Hiram. Every three years, the ships of Tarshish came back. They brought gold, silver, *ivory, *apes and monkeys.

v22 King Solomon had more riches and wisdom than all the other kings in the world. v23 All the kings in the world wanted to meet Solomon. They wanted to listen to the wisdom that God had given to him.v24 Each year, everyone who came brought a gift to him. They brought silver, gold, clothes, *weapons, *spices, horses and *mules.

v25 Solomon had places to keep 4000 horses and *chariots. He had 12 000 horses. These were in the *chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. v26 He ruled over all the kings from the river Euphrates to the country of the *Philistines. His rule reached even to the border of the country called Egypt. v27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stone. He made *cedar trees as plentiful as the *sycamore trees that grow in the low country. v28 And Solomon’s horses came from Egypt and from all other countries.

Verses 13-14 Solomon’s annual income of gold was 666 *talents. This did not include the wealth that he received from the trade of merchants. Also, rulers of other countries paid taxes to Solomon in gold and silver.

Verses 15-16 From the *Hebrew text, the amount of gold in each *shield is not certain. Most translations of the Bible say that it was in *shekels. However, some translations say that it was *bekas. A *beka is half a *shekel. So, the large *shields were perhaps 15 pounds weight (7½ kilos) of gold. And the small *shields were perhaps 7½ pounds weight (3½ kilos) of gold. Or perhaps they were half of these weights.

Verses 17-21 Solomon had so much gold that he made all kinds of things from it. He covered his *throne with pure gold. He made the models of lions with gold. His cups and dishes were gold. There was so much gold that people did not consider silver to be valuable.

The phrase ‘ships of Tarshish’ appears several times in the Bible. It probably refers to a type of ship rather than a ship from the place called Tarshish. They were ships that went to trade even to Tarshish.

We do not know where this Tarshish was. There was a Tarshish that Jonah tried to go to (Jonah 1:3). That Tarshish was probably in Spain or Sardinia. The ships of Hiram and Solomon sailed from Ezion Geber and the Red Sea (8:17-18). So these ships did not sail across the Mediterranean Sea. But probably, Solomon had other ships that sailed the Mediterranean. We can be sure that to get to Tarshish was a long journey.

Verses 22-28 Because of the wisdom that God gave to him, Solomon was famous. Kings from many countries wanted to benefit from that wisdom. Therefore, they came to Solomon and they brought their gifts to him.

Horses were evidence of wealth. Someone who owned many horses was rich. Solomon was very rich and he had 12 000 horses. Also, the number of *chariots showed that he was powerful.

Solomon ruled over a vast area. This area was from the river Euphrates to the country of the *Philistines and to the border of Egypt. God promised this area to Abraham’s *descendants (Genesis 15:18).

Solomon’s death – 2 Chronicles 9:29-31

v29 There are records of the rest of Solomon’s deeds. These show what he did from the beginning to the end of his rule. Nathan the *prophet wrote some records. The *prophecy of Ahijah from Shiloh shows several acts of Solomon. And some records are in the *visions of Iddo the *prophet. Iddo wrote about Jeroboam who was Nebat’s son. v30 Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all *Israel for 40 years.v31 Then Solomon died and the people buried him in Jerusalem, the city of David his father. And Solomon’s son Rehoboam became king after Solomon.

Verses 29-31 The *prophet Iddo seems to have been the author of three books. He wrote about Jeroboam and Solomon. Then he wrote about Rehoboam and his family history (12:15). After that, he wrote about Abijah (13:22).

People were careful to record the major events in the lives of the kings such as Solomon.

Solomon had ruled for 40 years in Jerusalem. He died and the people buried him in the city of David.

Word List

algum ~ a tree and the wood from that tree. It was an especially precious kind of wood.

altar ~ the special table that someone made out of stone or wood or metal; on it they burnt animals or they offered other gifts to God or to false gods.

ancestors ~ people in history that your family has come from.

angel ~ a servant who brings messages from heaven. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages.

apes ~ animals like monkeys.

ark ~ the ark of the *LORD or the ark of God; the Bible also calls it the ark of God’s special promise. It was a wooden box with gold all over the outside and over the inside. It had two gold *cherubim on the top. (See Exodus 25:10-22.) The *Israelites kept the ark in the most holy place, first in the *LORD’s tent and then in the *temple. The ark was a sign that God was with them (Exodus 25:22).

barley ~ a grain.

bath ~ a quantity of liquid equal to 5.75 gallons (about 22 litres).

BC ~ years before Christ was born.

beka ~ equal to half a *shekel.

bronze ~ a metal that glows when it is in a fire. When a person polishes it, it shines in the light. And it is very strong.

bull ~ the male animal that mates with a cow.

cedar ~ a kind of tree; or the wood from that tree.

chariot ~ a kind of cart that soldiers used to fight. Horses pulled it.

cherub ~ a special *angel. Images of these angels were in the most holy place where they were over the *ark. Isaiah and Ezekiel saw cherubim when they saw God’s *glory.

cherubim ~ special *angels. Images of these were in the most holy place where they were over the *ark. Isaiah and Ezekiel saw cherubim when they saw God’s *glory.

clay ~ earth, heavy and firm when dry, stiff and soft when wet.

cor ~ a quantity of grain equal to 57.5 gallons (220 litres).

cubit ~ The usual cubit was about 21 inches (53 centimetres). The old cubit was a little less than 18 inches (46 centimetres).

cymbal ~ a musical instrument. A person hits two of them together and they make a loud noise.

dedicate ~ to give to God in a special way.

dedication ~ the ceremony when you *dedicate something to God.

descendant ~ a future member of a family or of a nation.

disaster ~ when something very bad happens.

exile ~ people who have to live in a foreign country are in exile. Such a person is an exile. The exile means the time when the *Jews were in exile.

feast ~ a large meal; but, in this book, a feast is often a special time when the people came together to *worship God.

feast of unleavened bread ~ the week after the *Passover when the *Israelites ate flat bread. ‘Unleavened’ means ‘without yeast’. (Yeast causes bread to rise as it bakes.)

glory ~ great honour and beauty.

grasshopper ~ an insect.

Greek ~ the language of the country called Greece. There is an ancient translation of the *Old Testament in the Greek language.

harp ~ a musical instrument that has many strings.

Hebrew ~ the language of *Israel. The *Jews wrote most of the *Old Testament in Hebrew.

incense ~ something that gives a sweet smell when it burns. The priests burned it when they praised God in the *temple.

Israel ~ Israel is the special name that God gave to Jacob. The people were called Israel because of him. So, Israel is the nation whose *ancestors were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The country that they live in is called Israel.

Israelites ~ the people whose *ancestors are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sometimes in the text, it refers to the 10 *tribes in the north. Sometimes it refers to the two *tribes in the south. And often it refers to the 12 *tribes of *Israel.

ivory ~ a hard, white, bony material. It is precious and it comes from elephants.

Jews ~ another name for the *Israelites.

kilolitre ~ a quantity of liquid equal to 1000 litres. It is about 260 gallons.

kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules; or, the people that a king rules over; or the time for which a king rules.

lampstand ~ a special thing that holds lamps. There were 7 lamps on the lampstand in the *temple. The lamps burnt oil.

Levite ~ a person who belongs to the *tribe of Levi. They helped the priests.

lily/lilies ~ a kind of flower.

linen ~ a type of material that is like cotton. Linen is a very good quality material.

locust ~ an insect that eats agricultural crops.

LORD ~ ‘LORD’ is the special name that God gave to himself. It means that God has always been.

Lord ~ a title for God, to show that he is over all people and things.

lord ~ someone with authority, such as the king.

lyre ~ a musical instrument with strings.

manna ~ the ‘bread’ that God provided to feed the *Israelites in the desert.

mules ~ animals like horses.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.

olive ~ a fruit from which we get olive oil. It grows on an olive tree.

oxen ~ large and strong animals that farmers used to pull the plough. Another word for oxen is bulls.

palm ~ a tree.

Passover ~ a special *feast when the *Jews remember how God brought them out of Egypt.

Pentecost ~ a special *feast to thank God for the harvest of grain.

Philistines ~ people who lived to the south and west of Judah. They were a nation that fought against the *Israelites.

pine ~ a tree.

pomegranate ~ a fruit which had lots of seeds in it.

prophecy ~ a message from God; a gift of the Holy Spirit.

prophet ~ person who speaks on behalf of God. He or she can sometimes say what will happen in the future. Some prophets *worshipped false gods. So, not all prophets spoke words from God.

repent ~ to change the mind; to turn away from *sin and to *turn to God.

Sabbath ~ The Sabbath was the 7th day of the week, that is, Saturday. God told the *Israelites to keep this day as a special day. He said that they must not work on that day. They should *worship God instead.

sacrifice ~ something that people give to God. If it was an animal, the priests would burn all or part of it on an *altar. That was to say thank you to God. People also offered sacrifices when they asked God to forgive their *sins. Jesus died as a sacrifice for our *sins. To sacrifice is to give a sacrifice.

salvation ~ rescue from *sin or from enemies.

scroll ~ a very long piece of paper or other material that people wrote on; they fixed it round two pieces of wood.

shekel ~ equal to 0.4 ounces (11 grams) in weight.

shield ~ soldiers carried shields in their hands for protection in battle; they were like covers to protect the body from swords or from other *weapons. Solomon’s shields of gold were probably not for use in war.

sin ~ when we do not obey God. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil deeds and not to obey God. Those who sin are called sinners.

spice ~ a vegetable substance with a sweet flavour or a strong smell. People use spices in food or in *incense.

storeroom ~ a room that people keep stores in.

sycamore ~ a tree.

talent ~ equal to 75 pounds or 34 kilos in weight.

temple ~ a special building for the *worship of God or other gods. The *Jews had one in Jerusalem for the *worship of the real God.

throne ~ the special chair for the king. Sometimes this word is a word picture for the rule of that king and his *descendants.

tribe ~ The 12 families of the sons of Jacob became the 12 tribes of *Israel.

trumpet ~ a musical instrument; it makes a sound when a person blows into it.

turn ~ to decide to support someone. Or, to decide to oppose someone. If a person ‘turns away from God’, that person decides not to be loyal to God. If a person ‘turns to God’, that person decides to be loyal to God.

unleavened bread ~ people do not use yeast to make this kind of bread. (Yeast causes bread to rise as it bakes.)

vision ~ a sort of dream that God shows to someone but they may not be asleep.

weapon ~ a tool of war; people use it in attack or in defence when in a fight (like a sword or a gun).

worship ~ to praise God and to give thanks to him; to show honour to God; to say that we love him very much; or, what we do when we worship. But some people worship false gods instead of the real God.