Sunday, December 20, 2009

106: Solomon, and His 1000 Wives

1 Kings 10-11
The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents - 1 Kings 10:14

When the queen of Sheba hears how awesome Solomon is she has to come visit. The queen asks Solomon a bunch of difficult questions (the bible doesn't say what these "hard questions" are) and there is nothing Solomon can't answer. She's so impressed that she gives Solomon a bunch of gold and spices. Solomon then gives the queen "all she desired and asked for". We're never told what she desired or asked for. I'm not sure if this chapter could be any more vague.

The last part of chapter 10 tells us all about Solomon's riches and splendor. This is pretty uninteresting until we learn how much gold Solomon receives every year. He gets 666 talents worth of gold every year. What? Is this some strange coincidence that the number most associated with the devil happens to be the amount of gold Solomon makes? If anyone knows anything about this I'd love to hear it.

Solomon, like many biblical characters, didn't stick with one wife. In fact, he didn't even stick with ten wives. Actually, after his tenth wife he hadn't even begun to get married. He married over a hundred women. Yes, he maintained over a hundred wives. Oops, I left off a zero, Solomon had one thousand wives. Solomon lived for about 60 years, that averages to about one marriage every two weeks for his entire adult life. If he wanted to have sex with each of them once a day he would have to have sex every one and a half minutes. No wonder Solomon died young.

All of these wives lead Solomon to worship other gods. Of course God isn't pleased and raises up adversaries for Solomon. It couldn't be that people were jealous of Solomon and wanted to revolt. No, it has to be God.

Apparently all the other events of Solomon's life are recorded in the annals of Solomon. I guess if you want to hear about the rest of Solomon's reign you're screwed. Chapter 11 ends with the death of Solomon.

Is the bible appropriate for children to read? One New Jersey teacher doesn't think so.

The teacher told her third grade student that the bible was not appropriate reading material for quiet hour. This was met with great rage from the girl's parents. I wonder if any other book with so much sex and violence would be considered "appropriate reading material".

The girl's mother has accepted the principals apology, but wants something in writing that says the bible is ok to read during quiet hours. She's reportedly speaking to a lawyer. Somehow I think the school would have stuck to their guns a bit more if the child was reading the Satanic bible.

(via My Fox New York)


  1. Wow dude. I really like your work. It must take a lot of effort and time. Keep 'em coming.


  2. That had to be an incredibly bored third grader... the language in the bible is incredibly difficult to follow most of the time, there's not much of a coherent story, it's batshit crazy that a nine year old kid could possibly read it and have any idea what's going on.

    If the kid somehow DOES know what's going on, then that's gonna be one messed up kid.

  3. the language in the bible is incredibly difficult to follow most of the time

    Meh. Only if you stick to either archaic translations (like the KJV) or to translations that are trying to stick as close to the original text as it possibly can (like the NIV). If you go to Barnes and Noble and browse their bible section you can find all kinds of translations that are easier to read. And I know that there are a number of "teen bibles" out there where the language has been structured to make it easier for a 12 year old to read and comprehend. Of course, the folks making those versions are putting their own biases into the text to simplify it, but then it's pretty clear that the folks who do ANY translation of the Bible are doing the exact same thing - heck even the scribes who copied the text for thousands of years before the invention of the printing press would sneak their own biases into the text as they were copying it anyway.

  4. Re: the 666

    My limited understanding here is that 666 gets most of its notoriety from Revelations (end of New Testament. There is a possibility that the writer of Revelations was trying to refer to Emperor Nero at the time, something of a Satan-on-Earth character in history, at least to some Roman Empire provinces of the day.

    Our devilish association with the number is from that book and I don't think the Old Testament cultures looked at the number the same way, although there is a tie to Nebuchadnezzar's pride and the number 666 for some reason. The writer of Revelations may have had close knowledge of the Solomon gold, so it is a peculiar connection.

    There was a fair amount of numerology in Ancient Judaism, and I think I remember hearing there was a very close association between each letter of their alphabet to its number in sequence (for us, a=1, b=2 sort of thing).

    There is some suggestion that this reference to 666 talents of gold is a signal to Solomon's decline, or fall from being a good ruler to becoming a beast (the many wives, foreign gods). If God's Word is so written in the Bible then God has a flair for the literary device...

  5. Bryan,
    I have found no textual evidence to suggest
    something more attached to the meaning of the number 666 in I King 10:14 than its face value meaning of simply the weight of gold Solomon received. And among my resources, I have seen no author comment on this. So, since there is no textual evidence, then we must be extremely cautious with any speculation beyond the face-value meaning. But consistent with the plot line of the Bible here is my speculation…

    The entire “battle” described in the Bible is the kingdom of man (energized by the adversary, Satan, started in Gen 3) versus the Kingdom of God. The number 6 has to do with the number of “man” (Rev 13:18) and mankind’s attempts to thwart the Kingdom of God and establish His own independent rule. The “anti-Christ” in Revelation whose number is 666 is the ultimate consummation of man’s rebellion against the Kingdom of God. In contrast, if the Bible has a number of the divine then it seems to be 7 (wholeness/completeness/etc.) which is in contrast to the number of man, 6 (incomplete, not whole, defiled).

    Now, even in one of the most significant manifestations of God’s work upon earth at the time of Solomon, Solomon quickly looses focus and establishes his own kingdom of man (thus, the number 666?) and not the Kingdom of God. His heart quickly goes astray from God’s covenant through his political marriages, and accumulation of wealth. Observe his violations by comparing his actions with passages like Deut 7:3-4; 17:14-20. Thus, even Solomon in “all his glory” still ended up setting up his own kingdom of man. As you continue reading, you will see the chaos that ensues when men attempt to set up their own kingdom. There is not much “good news” from here on out through I-2 is a downward spiral until the entire covenant curses of Deut. are poured out upon God’s people. While God’s patience is great, He will not wait forever. And mankind’s loyalty to God is as the grass of the field which sprouts up momentarily but then withers away…

    I hope you have a happy holiday

  6. @anonymous & @jer
    I haven't found that the NIV has been that hard to understand. Boring? Yes, but not necessarily a hard read. I can definitely see how it would be hard (and more importantly, inappropriate) for a 9 year old though.

  7. Bryan -

    I was speaking of the NIV in the context of a 9 year old trying to read it. It would be hard to read mostly because it's incredibly boring and full of repetitive non-narrative bits with no grounding in why the non-narrative bits are important either for theological or literary reasons. Pages and pages of God arbitrarily saying "don't eat this, don't wear this, don't associate with those people, here's how to properly conduct a sacrifice, here's why you're supposed to give a sacrifice, here's how to properly conduct a sacrifice - no I didn't already tell you how to do that I don't know what you're talking about". A lot of adults find books like Leviticus and Numbers hard to digest - I can't imagine a 9 year old trying to do it without a bible that was written for something closer to their reading level.

    And then there's all the talk about countries and peoples around Israel that haven't existed for a few thousand years without any effort to give even the slightest bit of summary of who they are or why we should care. A few paragraphs of extra text giving some relevance as to why this group of people are an abomination before Yahweh or who this other group that he's allowing to rampage through Israel are would go a long way towards making huge parts of even the NIV easier to read.

    The mythic books are fine for the most part - even in the KJV I think a bright 9 year old could work her way through Genesis or Exodus if she had the incentive. I wouldn't recommend it - neither of them are particularly age-appropriate books - but she could do it. It's the books of rules and the "histories" that make for difficult reading, no matter what translation you use.

  8. I've been following you chapter by chapter for about a month now. Great stuff, thanks for doing this.

    Side note, I come from a nonreligious family, & out of curiosity picked up a (standard adult version) Bible & started reading it at age 8 or 9. Skipped the begats but otherwise got through Genesis 9 (the flood). I remember finding the inconsistencies confusing, but also convincing that this book could not sustain people's claim that it had a divine origin.



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