Melachim 1/Kings 1-Chapter 10: The Queen of Sheba and King Solomon’s throne, chariots, wealth & fame

Chapter 10: The Queen of Sheba and King Solomon’s throne, chariots, wealth & fame

1.      The Queen of Sheba meets King Shlomo:

  • The Queen of Sheba travels to King Solomon to test him with riddles: The Queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, and that he has been blessed with Divine wisdom. She therefore came to test him with riddles [to test if the rumor regarding his great wisdom is indeed true].
  • She arrives with many spices and gold and precious stones: She arrived to Jerusalem with a very large retinue. She came with camels that were carrying spices and a very large amount of gold and precious gems.
  • The Queen of Sheba has all of her queries answered by Shlomo: She spoke with King Solomon all that was on her heart. Shlomo answered all of her questions and there was nothing that was hidden from the king that he did not know to answer to her.
  • The Queen of Sheba praises Solomon: When the Queen of Sheba saw the great wisdom of Shlomo and the temple that he built, and the food of his table, and the seating of his servants, as well as their garments and beverages, as well as seeing how Shlomo would go up to the temple of God [from his palace[1]], she became breathless [stricken with shock and awe of the site]. She then sent to the king, “All that I have heard in my country of your great wisdom is true. Initially I did not want to believe it until I had seen it for myself with my own eyes, and I may now say that I was not even told half of the great wisdom that I have now seen. You have much more wisdom than what I was originally told. Fortunate are your men and fortunate are your servants who stand before you and hear your wisdom. Blessed be Hashem your God who desires you and placed you over the throne of Israel. As a result of God’s eternal love for the Jewish people he appointed you to be king over them to give justice and righteousness.”
  • The Queen of Sheba gives Shlomo gifts of spices and gold: She gave the king 120 Kikar of gold and a lot of spices and precious stones. There had never been such an abundance of spices that were given to King Shlomo as the Queen of Sheba had given him.

2.      The Almog wood delivered by the Hiram’s ships:

  • The ships of Chiram which had brought gold from the land of Ofir, likewise brought from Ofir [to King Solomon] a large quantity of Almog wood as well as precious stones.
  • The wood is used to make a path and musical instruments: The king used the Almog wood to make a path between the temple of God and the king’s palace. He also used the wood to make musical instruments such as harps and the like for the [Levites[2] who would] sing [in the temple]. There has never been such quality wood seen before, from that day and onward.

3.      Queen of Sheba returns home with gifts from Solomon:

  • King Shlomo gave the Queen of Sheba all that she desired and asked for [i.e. wisdom[3]] and gave her all the possible gifts that he could. She then went and returned to her land, she and her servants. [The sages[4] state that king Solomon was intimate with her, and from that union with the Queen of Sheba was (eventually) born Nevuchadnetzar who destroyed the temple after 410 years.]

4.      The King amasses gold:

  • The amount of gold that arrived to King Shlomo in a single year was 666 Kikar of gold. This is aside for all the gold that he amassed through the tourists and merchants that came to the country, as well as all of the Kings and leaders of the lands.
  • The gold shields: King Shlomo use the gold to make 200 body surrounding shields, of thin and flexible gold. Each shield contained 600 coins worth of gold. He made another 300 regular shields using soft and flexible gold, each shield being made up of 300 coins worth of gold. The king placed the shield the forest of Lebanon.

5.      The king’s throne:

  • The material: The king made a great throne from ivory and covered it with gold.
  • It steps: There were six steps leading up to the throne.
  • The throne itself: The top of the throne where the king sat was circular and had arms that stretched from each side [i.e. armrests[5]] by the place of the seat. There were two [gold[6]] lions standing next to the arms.
  • The lions on the throne: There were 12 lions that stood by the throne, six lions by each side of the steps, one lion by each of the six steps.
  • There was no throne like this amongst all the monarchies.

6.      The Kings wealth and fame:

  • The Kings drinking vessels: All of the drinking vessels of king Shlomo were made of gold, and likewise all of the vessels of the house that was in the forest of Lebanon were mad and once every three years the ships would arrive e of pure gold.
  • Silver: Nothing was made of silver, as silver was not of any value in his days.
  • The shipments of gold and other treasures and animals: The king had ships at the sea of Tarshish, together with the ships of Tarshish, and once every three years the ships would arrive from Tarshish carrying gold and silver and ivory [i.e. the teeth of elephants[7]] and monkeys and peacocks.
  • The greatest king: King Shlomo became the greatest king on earth in both wealth and wisdom.
  • His fame: People from all lands would come to meet with Shlomo to hear of the wisdom that God had given his heart. The visitors would bring with them gifts of silver and gold and garments and horses and mules at the time of the year that they were appointed to arrive.
  • The Kings horsemen and chariots: Shlomo collected both chariots and horsemen, and he had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen. They were led to the city of the chariots while the king remained in Jerusalem.
  • The abundance of silver and wood: There was so much silver, that the king made it available in Jerusalem like it was stone. Likewise, there was so much cedarwood available similar to the brush that is found in the valley.
  • The horses: The horses of King Shlomo came from Egypt, and were purchased by special agents of the king, who purchased from the Egyptians the sale rights of the horses. A chariot in Egypt was sold for 600 silver coins, while a horse was sold 150 silver coins. They were sold to the kings of the Hittites and Aram.

[1] Rashi 10:5

[2] Rashi 10:12

[3] Rashi 10:13

[4] Addition to Rashi 10:13 based on the a result

[5] Rashi 10:19

[6] Rashi 10:19

[7] Rashi 10:22

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