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my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it.” But the other said, “Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it."
Then the king answered and said to the first woman, “ Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof."
In the East, under governments where kings, armed with despotic authority, sit to judge causes, it is clear that the kind of wisdom here recorded must have been widely useful, and fully appreciated. Accordingly, we find that the fame of it spread beyond Judea, and “there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon.” “And the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, and she came to prove him with hard questions.* And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones : and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions : there was not anything hid from the king that he told her not.”
“ And when the Queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built:
* Tradition relates an amusing illustration of the “hard questions” which the Queen asked Solomon. Two vases were placed upon a table, one containing real, the other wax flowers, so admirably imitated from nature that it seemed impossible to distinguish them. Without approaching near enough to smell them, Solomon was required to point out the real from the artificial flowers. He opened the window, and watched which flowers attracted the bees which flew into the room.
and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cup bearers, and his ascent by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her; and she said to the king, it was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. How beit I believed not the words until I came, and mine eyes had seen it; and, behold, the half was not told me. Thy wisdom and thy prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel; because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king to do judgment and justice.”
“ And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones : there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.”
Solomon in return gave presents to the Queen of equal magnificence; and she and her servants departed well pleased to their own country.*
The wisdom of this great king was, however, insufficient to guard him from the temptations incident to unbounded power, and to constant self-gratification unrestrained. In the latter years of his life he forsook the laws of Moses. Besides the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, he took many wives from among the idolatrous nations round, and allowed these to introduce the worship of their heathen gods into the very precincts of Jerusalem. On the Mount of Olives, in full view of the glorious temple of the one LORD of heaven and earth, was erected a high place for “Chemosh, the abomination of Moab,"* and another for "Moloch (or Milcom), the abomination of the children of Ammon;" and in their debasing worship did Solomon join with his strange wives. Immediately the anger of the Lord was manifested, and the punishment of his sin denounced. God declared that the kingdom should be rent from Solomon, and given to his servant; but for the sake of David, his father, one tribe should still remain to his descendants, and the division should not take place during Solomon's lifetime. But having broken the law on the observance of which his prosperity depended, the remaining years of his reign were disquieted with the murmurs of his people, and by foreign foes. Hadad, the Edomite, excited revolts in Idumea; and Rezon, become by conquest king of Damascus, “ab
* Sheba, situated in the south of Arabia, in the part now called Arabia Felix. .
* Chemosh; it is uncertain what this idol was, some consider it the same as Baal Peor, the Tammuz of the Syrians, and Adonis of the Greeks, and others, as the Sun; and others again, Ammon ; and that this latter was the Egyptian deification of their earliest founder, Ham, on i. e., Ham, the Sun, On being the Egyptian name for the Sun.-See Calmet, and Jahn's Biblical Antiquities.
horred Israel, and reigned over Syria.” A yet more dangerous enemy to his throne was raised up in the person of Jeroboam, one of his mighty men of valour, to whom was foretold the future division of the kingdom. One day as Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the prophet, Ahijah, met him, and being alone with him in a field, he took from him his garment, which was new, and rending it into twelve pieces, gave Jeroboam back ten, saying, in like manner God would rend the kingdom of Judah, and Jeroboam should reign over ten of the tribes; and if Jeroboam would do that which was right, and keep the statutes and commandments of the LORD, the Lord would be with him, as he had been with David, and establish him and his house upon the throne of Israel, When Solomon heard of the prophet's prediction, he sought to slay Jeroboam ; but Jeroboam fled into Egypt, where he remained until the death of Solomon.
Unmoved to repentance by these repeated warnings, Solomon continued in his evil course. Not satisfied with
his vast revenues, he oppressed his people with heavy imposts to furnish means to support an excessive magnificence in his court, and the enormous expense of building new cities and palaces; while he laid the foundation of future and far worse misery to the nation, by sanctioning the lowest and most revolting species of idolatry. At length he died unregretted, after a reign of forty years ; in the early part, the most glorious of any king re
corded in history; in the latter part, satiated with worldly pleasure, and deserted by God, whose pure laws he had violated, be proved the truth of his own sad aphorism, and experienced that even on a throne, when pleasure, not duty, is the end and aim of life, it shall prove but vanity and vexation of spirit. Vanity of vanity, saith the preacher, all is vanity.”
The reign of Solomon closes for a time the flourishing era of the Hebrew nation; and before commencing the history of its division and decline, it will be desirable to consider again the object of its peculiar institutions; how far this object was secured by the glories of David and Solomon, and how we may expect it to be preserved amidst the disasters of their successors.
The selection of the Israelites, as a nation under the immediate Government of God, being intended to teach mankind the existence of an invisible Creator and Ruler of the Universe, it follows that we are to expect prosperity and success to attend them, only in proportion as they obeyed this fundamental law of their government. This principle was manifested in the victories of David, and the glory of Solomon; when the Egyptian, Syrian, and Babylonian Kings were forced to acknowledge the weakness of their gods and the supremacy of Jehovah. When Solomon became idolatrous, his glory waned ; and though the royal house was not destroyed, its lustre was greatly diminished, and another kingdom was raised out of its ruins; but the