Portrayals of Economic Exchange in the Book of Kings

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Then, Solomon reciprocates by giving all these gifts back to Sheba. This happens at the elite level; it also happens at the peasant level. So, she gives the meal; Elijah then prophecies for her and this is more striking because Elijah rejected gifts from generals and kings, but chose to have the bond with a most disenfranchised person of the ancient Near East , of a foreign widow.

A modern day example would be a wedding. So, I think a lot of the economy of ancient Israel was dominated by gifts which were given, not for supply and demand, but to reinforce and sometimes to break social bonds. His research interests include Late Bronze Age civilizations and the economy of the ancient Near East.


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This article describes features of the Roman economy: its hierarchy, proprietary nature, agricultural basis, and reliance on slaves. Elijah, a northern Israelite prophet of the ninth century B. Animal sacrifice was mainstream religion in the ancient world, where the ritual killing and cutting-up of animals and burning them in an altar fire strengthened the bond between God and humanity.

What was life like in a first century village in Galilee? Wise men? Christians have been trying to nail down their identity for millennia. As early as A. He details their skill in magic arts—including pouring boiled earthworms in the ear to cure a toothache! Despite the disagreement, here are a few facts. This anachronism indicates that by the first century A. Various kings in the ancient world frequently consulted these men because of their skill in interpreting omens, signs, and the stars.

These external witnesses corroborate the picture of magi we see in the Old Testament.

Overview: 1-2 Kings

The Persians and their magi crop up in the biblical timeline in the days of Daniel and Esther. And what do they signify? His story demonstrates that the Magi were astrologers and interpreters of omens—following a star and dreaming dreams. The book of Daniel chronicles how he and his companions spent 70 years exiled among magi in the East. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was in the habit of gathering the best and brightest from his vanquished foes into an advisory body of wise men, stargazers, and dreamers. In one episode from the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar had an ominous dream.


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  5. When the magi only succeeded in coming up with excuses, Daniel rescued them all with the dream and interpretation from the Lord. Another famous Old Testament king had a penchant for keeping his court packed with wise men, astrologers, and magicians: Pharaoh of Egypt. Genesis tells of a young man named Joseph who was carted off to exile in Egypt. One night Pharaoh awoke from a terrifying dream. He found that none of his magicians could provide an interpretation. Long before Daniel, Joseph knew what it was like to have magi bow before him. This time, a star led the Magi into exile, sojourning in search of the scepter rising out of Israel Num.

    As they bow and worship, they become the first to recognize the end from the beginning. Perhaps the word magi feels a little too foreign for you. Have no fear! Wise men is a perfectly acceptable translation. Gentile kings valued these men for their wisdom concerning the affairs of the kingdom.

    Exchange of women

    Martin Luther agreed. Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Biblical deconstructionists also argue from archaeological evidence, which indicates that Jerusalem in Solomon's time, the tenth century B. Also, some of the city walls that the Bible describes as being built by Solomon have been uncovered, and they seem to date for a century or so after his reign.

    The large stables and other structures unearthed by earlier archaeologists and cited of proof of the Bible's accuracy are now dated to the ninth century B. However, the dating methods that came up with this result have been challenged. Historians who accept the historicity of Solomon's empire give more credence to passages from the Book of Kings which seem to reflect actual court documents. Furthermore, the fact that a large building such as Solomon's Temple has not been found is no proof that it never existed.

    New finds of remains of massive structures that can be dated to the time of David and Solomon indicate that much evidence from that era remains to be uncovered. The Bible describes the young Solomon as being committed to "walk in [God's] ways… as it is written in the Law of Moses" 1 Kings But biblical critics wonder: did the Law of Moses, as such, even exist in Solomon's time? This is the question serious students of the Bible, both pious and secular, must confront. Some critics believe that while the Law of Moses may have ancient roots, it was first compiled and implemented nationally as late as the time of King Hezekiah in the eighth century B.

    There is archaeological evidence that in Solomon's day only the religious elites of Israel and Judah would have viewed Yahweh as the only deity, or think that this God alone must be worshiped. Many ordinary Israelites worshiped not only God as Yahweh, but also his feminine counterpart as Astarte or Asherah.

    The "Yahweh-only" ethic eventually prevailed during the Babylonian captivity and thereafter. Thus it was only natural that Solomon, who lived during a time when the concept of God was not so exclusive, would honor other deities besides that of his own tribe of Judah. Furthermore, statements conveying religious judgments about Solomon in the Book of Kings largely come from the redaction written by the Deuteronomistic Historian in the sixth-century B.

    Despite the view of "sacred history" that attributes the division of Solomon's kingdom to religious apostasy, his honoring of "foreign" deities could be seen as natural, or even a manifestation of his wisdom. Solomon, from this point of view, was an ancient ecumenist! Rather, it would have been economic, political, and military issues that truly caused Judah and Israel to go their separate ways, rather than the idolatry of King Solomon. Indeed the description of Jeroboam's rebellion in 1 Kings 12 describes it more in terms of a labor dispute than a religious one.

    One reason for the paucity of evidence for Solomon's empire may be the relative weakness of the surrounding nations in his day. Egypt had been weakened by the Sea Peoples; Mesopotamia was in a period of small warring states before Assyria had risen to supremacy; and even the Mycenaean Civilization was in decline. Hence, Solomon's empire, strengthened by its alliance with the Phoenicians , was in an unusually favorable situation to exercise hegemony over the ancient world.

    Biblical Magi - Wikipedia

    The division of Israel after Solomon's death would bring this favorable condition to an abrupt end. One can speculate what might have been, had Solomon not fallen into idolatry and had his policies been more successful. Perhaps Solomon was providentially situated so that the messianic hope that Israel could stand as the "Kingdom of God" and a "light to the nations" could have been achieved in his day. The Bible says that Solomon was a prolific writer of proverbs and other works. Although the tradition of Solomon as a fount of Jewish wisdom literature is thus quite ancient, it is questionable whether he wrote all the works traditionally ascribed to him.

    The Book of Proverbs , a collection of wisdom sayings, is most likely to have a kernel dating from Solomon's time. The first proverb in the collection, as well as the opening verse of Proverb 10, provides the heading: "The Proverbs of Solomon. Yet if Solomon were a collector of international wisdom, he might very well have compiled an earlier version of the book. The claim to Solomonic authorship is much weaker for Ecclesiastes, which claims to be the work of someone called "The Preacher" Hebrew: Koheleth , a "son of David" who is a ruler of considerable worldly wisdom.

    Solomon, of course, is the personage implied.

    However, most scholars consider the work to reflect the literary style and philosophy of a considerably later era: of the period of Babylonian exile even as late as the third century B. The work usually referred to as the Song of Solomon, is in reality entitled "Song of Songs. Most scholars consider it to be a composite work by several anonymous authors.

    Because of this, it is not easy to date. The romantic notion that it is a love song composed by Solomon for his Egyptian wife is attractive, but unlikely.

    Stephen Quinn, Texas Christian University

    A great number of non-biblical works are also attributed to Solomon, notably the deutero-canonical Wisdom of Solomon and the Psalms of Solomon. The Jewish historian Eupolemus, who wrote around B.

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    The idea that the historical Solomon penned these works is viewed with a high degree of skepticism. Solomon is an important, if controversial figure, in Judaism and occupies a very important part in rabbinical legend. He is one of the zaddikim the just , a friend of God, and "he who built the Temple. He is considered to have been a prophet, and a godly judge without equal.

    Some rabbis esteem Solomon so highly that they deny that he fell into idolatry, claiming instead that he only failed to restrain his wives from the practice. However, the Tanakh the Hebrew Bible clearly holds Solomon's idolatry responsible for God's division of the united kingdom. Talmudic authorities, too, focus on Solomon's weakness for women and his sin of idolatry. It is indicative of the ambiguous place of Solomon in Jewish tradition that when the Talmudic sage Rabbi Eliezer was asked by his students for his opinion of Solomon's place in the life in the world to come, he reportedly gave an evasive answer.

    Solomon, through his connection to the Queen of Sheba , also serves as a link between Judaism and Africa , where several African tribes have claimed descent from Solomon and identify themselves as Jews, including the Falasha, though many also see them as from the lost tribe of Dan. They have been granted the right of return to live in the modern state of Israel. The Lembo in South Africa also claim a Jewish identity.

    In Christian tradition, Solomon is viewed as a great king of Israel who reigned in peace with godly wisdom with the tragic exception of his worshiping foreign deities. He represents Israel's Golden Age before it fell into the sin of idolatry and rebellion against God. Solomon's building of the Temple makes him a forerunner of Jesus, the descendant of David who would himself be the true Temple. As the Temple also represents the Church, Solomon's corruption gives a foretaste of the corruption and ruin that can come upon the church when its people fall into sin. Solomon is one of the ancestors of Jesus Christ listed in Matthew 1.

    Jesus himself refers to both Solomon's wisdom and his splendor Matthew ; In the Christian scriptures, Solomon is traditionally credited with the authorship of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Other works supposedly about or by Solomon, some of which are deemed heretical, are included in the New Testament Apocrypha see The Solomon of Legend below.