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A.M. 2992. out of these astonishing labours, would demand a separate article, B.c. 1012. and cannot be attempted here. It may be necessary, however, to
remark, that the only certain account of the temple must be gathered from the books of Kings and Chronicles ; that in the general sketches furnished by these, many particulars must be deficient; that it is not safe to supply these from the extravagances of the Jewish rabbins; that Josephus himself had no other information respecting the first temple than that which lies before us in the sacred writings; that his descriptions, so far as they extend beyond the naked text, should not be depended upon, especially when his fondness for tradition is considered; that many who have written upon this subject, besides adopting such traditions, have confounded the temple of Ezekiel, as seen in vision, with the features and proportions of the actual temple of Solomon; and that, after the closest investigation, we cannot arrive at any absolute certainty as to its form and dimensions.
Some remarkable circumstances in connection with this extraordinary structure must not be omitted. Of whatever its several parts consisted, the trees were shaped as they were felled, the stones were moulded at their quarries, the metals were formed for their several purposes at the forge, or the depository; every thing was completed before it came to Jerusalem, “ so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was building;” every part of the materials fitted for its respective position required nothing more than to be adjusted and cemented. The site of the temple was Mount Moriah, a solid rock, presenting unequal surfaces, which must have been levelled with prodigious labour, and might possibly have been attempted, and partly achieved, before the death of David, who had not only prepared materials for this stupendous structure, but actually assembled Tyrian workmen around him. The work being facilitated by these preparatory measures, stimulated by the ardent zeal of the youthful
monarch, and superintended by the commanding spirit of wisdom Completed. which distinguished him, this astonishing edifice was reared in seven
years. It would be unpardonable to pass over a minute fact, which is one of those incidental circumstances that would be naturally noted
by a true historian, but never occur to any man who planned a fiction. A.M. 3000. It is said, in the account of the placing the ark in the temple, “ There B.C. 1004. was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone which Moses put Ark .. there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children deposited.
of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.” A confirmation is thus indirectly furnished of the history contained in the books of Moses, 491 years after that legislator had written. (See Exod. xxv. 16 and 21, compared with 1 Kings viii. 9, and 2 Chron. v. 10.) In this magnificent sanctuary was a profusion of cedar, brass, silver, gold, and “costly stones,” with the richest produce of Tyre, as well in materials as workmanship; nor can a more lively apprehension of
of the temple.
the unbounded wealth of this monarch be furnished, than by regarding A.M. 3000. the golden shields, and the splendid furniture of a temple literally B.C. 1004. overlaid internally with the most precious of all the metals.
The dedication of the temple took place in the year of the ninth Dedication Jubilee, celebrated by the Jews; and a little delay seems to have des occurred after the completion of the work, that its consecration might, by this circumstance, acquire additional splendour. No sooner was the ark deposited in its sacred receptacle, than the luminous cloud, the visible symbol of the Divine Presence, filled the temple, the brightness of which was so insufferable, that the priests were compelled to suspend their ministerial functions. It was then that Solomon, who had been standing upon a brazen scaffold, before the altar, kneeled down, in the presence of his assembled subjects, and offered up a prayer of consecration, so solemn, so sublime, and so comprehensive, that it is difficult to say what quality was pre-eminent in a devotional effusion which excelled in all." The sacrifices offered Sacrifices were immense ; that of the first day of a feast which lasted seven, a
otferings. consisted of 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep. To this august ceremony succeeded the feast of tabernacles, which also lasted seven days; so that the public rejoicings continued uninterruptedly an entire fortnight. At the close of these, a second vision was vouchsafed to Solomon, assuring him of the divine favour, if he held fast his fidelity to God; and warning him, at the same time, that if he forsook the God of his fathers, it was not the magnificence of the house which he had consecrated that should secure it from desolation; but that, in such an event, it should assuredly be laid waste, and his people, carried into captivity, be scattered among all nations.
This superb structure was followed by other embellishments of A.M. 3012. Jerusalem, suitable to the splendour of his own mind, and according B.C. 992. with the prosperity of his reign. He built a palace for himself, Solomon's which consumed thirteen years in its erection; a second, which he palaces called “ the house of the forest of Lebanon ;” and a third for his queen, “ the daughter of Pharaoh.” These were all constructed on plans of the utmost magnificence. His wealth was prodigiousall his establishment of surpassing grandeur-his wisdom unrivalled in Egypt, and throughout the East-his writings, of which only a few remain, innumerable-his power equal to his prosperity-since he rendered the whole of the remaining Canaanites tributary—and Tributary his empire extended over the Philistines, the ancient enemies of nations. Israel,“ even to the border of Egypt.” Two things which added to his princely magnificence and amazing riches, have been considered as a departure from the prescriptions of Deity, relative to the government of the Jews; the one, the multiplication of chariots and horsemen, as well for war, as for purposes of state; and the other, the commercial relations which he formed with other nations, Commerce. stimulated probably by his very intimate connection with Tyre, but inconsistent, apparently, with the duties of a people, who were
A.M. 3012. commanded, as the badge of their peculiar destination, to keep
pleased with the twenty cities in Galilee which the king of Israel
Amidst the prosperity of his peaceful reign, this great monarch did not neglect whatever was essential to the security of his
dominions, either in his own, or aftertimes. To him Jerusalem Jerusalem owed its almost impregnable walls; and various other towns, and
positions of importance, in his vast empire, were fortified with great
care and expense. Queen of
Among the illustrious visitors whom the fame of Solomon's wisdom and power drew to Jerusalem, the most distinguished was the queen of Sheba. And here a question arises, as to the country of this renowned princess. She is called “the queen of the south;” and our Lord says, “she came from the uttermost parts of the earth, to hear the wisdom of Solomon.” Our attention is naturally directed to countries south of Jerusalem, and an examination of those parts most distant from the seat of the Israelitish empire, from which an acknowledgment of the greatness and renown of Solomon was voluntarily offered. The point at issue appears to lie between Arabia and Ethiopia; both of which are south of Judea. But there is a very important circumstance, long agitated, and more lately illustrated by Mr. Bruce, which seems to point more distinctly
to Ethiopia. He found that the Abyssinians (in other words, the Her country. Ethiopians,) maintain to this hour, that this princess was of their
country; that her posterity long reigned there; that she had a son by Solomon, from whom the regal stock is derived; and they hold various traditions respecting this monarch. It is not impossible, however, that the queen of Ethiopia might be sovereign of Arabia also—an empire divided only by the Red Sea ; and thus the differences of those accounts, which agree in many essential points, become reconciled. Whatever might be the precise spot of her empire, it is evident that she was governed by an ardent thirst of knowledge, which could attract her to Jerusalem, confessedly very remote from her country. She was overwhelmed by his magnificence, and still more by his matchless wisdom; which she proved, according to the practice of the times, (which long after prevailed, and was recognised by the seven Grecian sages, at their meetings,) A.M. 3012. by difficult questions and abstruse propositions: her satisfaction B.c. 992. was so entire at his solution of her inquiries, and her admiration so Her unbounded at the splendour of his state, that she avowed fame had ad
1 The nature and extent of his commercial pursuits appear to us, at least, questionable; while the multiplication of chariots, the accumulation of great
wealth, and especially the multitude of wives, are expressly prohibited. See Deut. xvii. 14–20.
of Solomon. not done him justice ; for “ the half had not been told her.” After an interchange of presents, they parted, mutually gratified; and this memorable interview was but one more tribute to a wisdom, to which all existing monarchs paid homage, and which all succeeding ages have consented to eulogize.
It may be proper to pause here, and mark more particularly those principal occurrences in the Scripture narrative of the reign of Solomon, which have that collateral and foreign confirmation we should expect to find. About this time, or rather later, the earliest Grecian poetry has its origin; from which the first historians of antiquity gathered most of the materials of their records.
The temple of Solomon was a structure too celebrated not to be Collateral referred to as an actually existing monument of the power and evidencesco wealth of the Hebrews at that time; and the temple of Vulcan in history. Egypt, and other magnificent sanctuaries in the heathen world, borrowed their grand outline from this stupendous edifice. To affirm the existence of such a building, supposing it never to have existed, must have subjected the records of the country boasting of it to derision and contempt. To admit its existence, and in the splendour assumed, must afford sufficient evidence of the prosperity of the Israelitish empire at that time, and of the power, magnificence, and wealth, of the reigning monarch. The facts, whatever they were, must have been known to the Tyrians, who assisted in the execution of the design ; and to the Babylonians, who were the instruments of its destruction: and had any thing been affirmed in the Jewish writings contrary to truth on those points, their testimony must have been arraigned and exposed by the records of these countries. The wisdom of Solomon also was not confined within the limits of his empire, extensive as that was, but the earth is filled with his fame. His penetration_his knowledge—his majesty and might, were recorded by nations the most remote from each other, in point of position; the most opposed in political interests; and the most unlike as to habits and circumstances.
We are now to notice a melancholy reverse of all this wisdom and A.M. 3022. glory—to see the sun darkening as it declined, and finally setting B.c. 982. behind an impenetrable cloud. An awful lesson is afforded to the world when such an understanding as that of Solomon was capable of being seduced; and the desolating power of sin is affectingly shown, contrasted with so much moral and intellectual beauty. As he advanced in life he multiplied his wives and his concubines to an enormous extent, having seven hundred of the former, and three hundred of the latter; and these, in violation of an express law, were indiscriminately taken from foreign and idolatrous nations.
A.M. 3022. Their ascendancy over the king induced him to adopt their various 1.C. 982. superstitions; and he filled his country with altars and groves dediSulomon's cated to their respective idols; which, abounding in Jerusalem, defection.
polluted the very fane that he had himself reared at such immense cost, and consecrated to Jehovah. Among these were the objects
of the worship of the Ammonites and of the Moabites, distinguished Ashtoreth. for the foul and cruel rites practised by their adorers; and “ Ash
toreth, the goddess of the Sidonians,” a popular deity in that and subsequent ages; called also Astarte by the Phoenicians, and Aestar by the Saxons, whence our term Easter is said to be derived, sacrifices being offered to this idol in the month of April. These idols had temples erected to them on the Mount of Olives, directly over against the temple of Jerusalem. The divine displeasure was now marked in another communication to the uxorious monarch, far
different from his two former dreams; and it was distinctly told him, threatened.
that his kingdom should be divided, and the largest portion pass away from his family, a remnant only remaining, in reward of the piety of his father David. In compassion also to one whose youth was so full of promise, it was added, that the threatened separation should not take place in his day. While this communication was made to Solomon, the means of carrying into effect its substance were actually adopting, and the last days of Solomon were disturbed by incipient troubles which fell heavily upon his successors. Hadad, the king of Edom, cherished an irreconcileable hostility against the family of David, by whom his country had been laid waste; and although he was compelled to shelter himself in Egypt, during the reign of that monarch, and a part of that of his illustrious successor, his inextinguishable hatred burnt with a fury over which time had no power. He strengthened himself by alliances in Egypt, and subsequently by preparations at home, to strike a decisive blow at his adversary, the first opportune moment that might present itself. Another enemy to Solomon and to Israel was found in the person of Rezon, who first revolted from the king of Zobah, and afterwards, at the head of a band of men, who joined his fortunes, established a kingdom at Damascus, and reigned over Syria. It appears, from the sacred historian, that each of these adversaries, so formidable
afterwards, harassed the Israelites during the close of Solomon's A.M. 3024 reign. The prophet Abijah had received the divine command to B.C. 980. state to Jeroboam, an Ephraimite, of a quick judgment and a daring Jeroboam. spirit, whom Solomon had patronized and employed, that ten of the
tribes of Israel should, at the death of the king, come under his government, (the remainder alone being spared to the royal heir,) because of the idolatries of Solomon, yet that this division should not take place while the reigning monarch lived. The manner in which
this prediction was conveyed, accorded with the symbolical usages The prophet of the age and country. Jeroboam, being clothed in a new garment, Abijah.
met the prophet alone in a field, by whom his robe was taken off,