Digging Into The Past

Ferrell Jenkins
Temple Terrace, Florida


Solomon was the greatest king of the earth in his time. The great early empires of the Fertile Crescent had declined and Assyria and Babylon had not risen to the place of power that they would occupy within two or three centuries after Solomon. Saul and David fought for Israel; Solomon enjoyed the benefits of their many battles. He reigned over all the territory God had promised to Abraham: "And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River (the Euphrates) unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt" (I Kings 4:21; see also Gen. 15:18). The peace and prosperity of Solomon's reign is indicated in the statement that "Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon" (I Kings 4:25).

Chariot Cities

The strategic location of the land of Palestine, along with Solomon's wisdom, made it possible for him to amass a fortune commercially. His buying and selling of horses and chariots made it necessary to build chariot cities. He built Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer (I Kings 9:15; 2 Chron. 9:25). Archaeologists have done work at all of these cities and have found gateways, walls and other buildings from the Solomonic period.

At Megiddo, the ruins of stables, capable of housing over 400 horses and about 150 chariots, have been excavated. In front of the stable compound was an enclosed courtyard, 180 feet square, with a lime plaster flood. There was also a huge cistern for watering the horses. The stables can be distinguished by the rows of stone pillars alternating with mangers; the pillars also served as hitching posts. Archaeologists are divided as to the dating of these stables. P. L. O. Guy, who excavated at Megiddo 1935-39, said they belonged to the time of Solomon. Yigael Yadin, who has done more recent work at Megiddo, says the stables belong to the time of Ahab.

At the southeast corner of the temple area in Jerusalem, Herod the Great widened the area artificially, supporting the pavement with arches. This large vaulted area, underneath the present pavement, has been erroneously called Solomon's Stables.

Visit of the Queen of Sheba

Solomon's wealth and splendor prompted many rulers to enter into alliances and trade agreements with him. The Queen of Sheba made a strenuous journey to Jerusalem to visit King Solomon (I Kings 10). That trade agreements were made has been attested by archaeological evidence. Kelso says, "At Bethel we found a pottery stamp used by the merchants of the Queen of Sheba to stamp their signatures on the bags of incense. It dates about a century after the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon." (James Kelso, Archaeology And Our Old Testament Contemporaries, p. 90)

(Next article: Solomon's Copper Mines.)


January 15, 1970