The Antiquities of the Jews, 8.21–8.60

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

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211. Solomon having already settled himself firmly in his kingdom, and having brought his enemies to punishment, he married the daughter of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and built the walls of Jerusalem much larger and stronger than those that had been before, and thenceforward he managed public affairs very peaceably. Nor was his youth any hinderance in the exercise of justice, or in the observation of the laws, or in the remembrance of what charges his father had given him at his death; but he discharged every duty with great accuracy, that might have been expected from such as are aged, and of the greatest prudence. 22He now resolved to go to Hebron, and sacrifice to God upon the brazen altar that was built by Moses. Accordingly he offered there burnt-offerings, in number a thousand; and when he had done this, he thought he had paid great honor to God; for as he was asleep that very night God appeared to him, and commanded him to ask of him some gifts which he was ready to give him as a reward for his piety. 23So Solomon asked of God what was most excellent, and of the greatest worth in itself, what God would bestow with the greatest joy, and what it was most profitable for man to receive; for he did not desire to have bestowed upon him either gold or silver, or any other riches, as a man and a youth might naturally have done, for these are the things that generally are esteemed by most men, as alone of the greatest worth, and the best gifts of God; but, said he, “Give me, O Lord, a sound mind, and a good understanding, whereby I may speak and judge the people according to truth and righteousness.” 24With these petitions God was well pleased; and promised to give him all those things that he had not mentioned in his option, riches, glory, victory over his enemies; and, in the first place, understanding and wisdom, and this in such a degree as no other mortal man, neither kings nor ordinary persons, ever had. He also promised to preserve the kingdom to his posterity for a very long time, if he continued righteous and obedient to him, and imitated his father in those things wherein he excelled. 25When Solomon heard this from God, he presently leaped out of his bed; and when he had worshipped him, he returned to Jerusalem; and after he had offered great sacrifices before the tabernacle, he feasted all his own family.

262. In these days a hard cause came before him in judgment, which it was very difficult to find any end of; and I think it necessary to explain the fact about which the contest was, that such as light upon my writings may know what a difficult cause Solomon was to determine, and those that are concerned in such matters may take this sagacity of the king for a pattern, that they may the more easily give sentence about such questions. 27There were two women, who were harlots in the course of their lives, that came to him; of whom she that seemed to be injured began to speak first, and said, “O king, I and this other woman dwell together in one room. Now it came to pass that we both bore a son at the same hour of the same day; 28and on the third day this woman overlaid her son, and killed it, and then took my son out of my bosom, and removed him to herself, and as I was asleep she laid her dead son in my arms. 29Now, when in the morning I was desirous to give the breast to the child, I did not find my own, but saw the woman’s dead child lying by me; for I considered it exactly, and found it so to be. Hence it was that I demanded my son, and when I could not obtain him, I have recourse, my lord, to thy assistance; for since we were alone, and there was nobody there that could convict her, she cares for nothing, but perseveres in the stout denial of the fact.” 30When this woman had told this her story, the king asked the other woman what she had to say in contradiction to that story. But when she denied that she had done what was charged upon her, and said that it was her child that was living, and that it was her antagonist’s child that was dead, and when no one could devise what judgment could be given, and the whole court were blind in their understanding, and could not tell how to find out this riddle, the king alone invented the following way how to discover it. 31He bade them bring in both the dead child and the living child; and sent one of his guards, and commanded him to fetch a sword, and draw it, and to cut both the children into two pieces, that each of the women might have half the living and half the dead child. 32Hereupon all the people privately laughed at the king, as no more than a youth. But, in the mean time, she that was the real mother of the living child cried out that he should not do so, but deliver that child to the other woman as her own, for she would be satisfied with the life of the child, and with the sight of it, although it were esteemed the other’s child; but the other woman was ready to see the child divided, and was desirous, moreover, that the first woman should be tormented. 33When the king understood that both their words proceeded from the truth of their passions, he adjudged the child to her that cried out to save it, for that she was the real mother of it; and he condemned the other as a wicked woman, who had not only killed her own child, but was endeavoring to see her friend’s child destroyed also. 34Now the multitude looked on this determination as a great sign and demonstration of the king’s sagacity and wisdom, and after that day attended to him as to one that had a divine mind.

353. Now the captains of his armies, and officers appointed over the whole country, were these: over the lot of Ephraim was Ures; over the toparchy of Bethlehem was Dioclerus; Abinadab, who married Solomon’s daughter, had the region of Dora and the sea-coast under him; 36the Great Plain was under Benaiah, the son of Achilus; he also governed all the country as far as Jordan; Gabaris ruled over Gilead and Gaulanitis, and had under him the sixty great and fenced cities [of Og]; Achinadab managed the affairs of all Galilee as far as Sidon, and had himself also married a daughter of Solomon’s, whose name was Basima; 37Banacates had the seacoast about Arce; as had Shaphat Mount Tabor, and Carmel, and [the Lower] Galilee, as far as the river Jordan; one man was appointed over all this country; Shimei was intrusted with the lot of Benjamin; and Gabares had the country beyond Jordan, over whom there was again one governor appointed. 38Now the people of the Hebrews, and particularly the tribe of Judah, received a wonderful increase when they betook themselves to husbandry, and the cultivation of their grounds; for as they enjoyed peace, and were not distracted with wars and troubles, and having, besides, an abundant fruition of the most desirable liberty, every one was busy in augmenting the product of their own lands, and making them worth more than they had formerly been.

394. The king had also other rulers, who were over the land of Syria and of the Philistines, which reached from the river Euphrates to Egypt, and these collected his tributes of the nations. 40Now these contributed to the king’s table, and to his supper every day thirty cori of fine flour, and sixty of meal; as also ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and a hundred fat lambs; all these were besides what were taken by hunting harts and buffaloes, and birds and fishes, which were brought to the king by foreigners day by day. 41Solomon had also so great a number of chariots, that the stalls of his horses for those chariots were forty thousand; and besides these he had twelve thousand horsemen, the one half of which waited upon the king in Jerusalem, and the rest were dispersed abroad, and dwelt in the royal villages; but the same officer who provided for the king’s expenses supplied also the fodder for the horses, and still carried it to the place where the king abode at that time.

425. Now the sagacity and wisdom which God had bestowed on Solomon was so great, that he exceeded the ancients; insomuch that he was no way inferior to the Egyptians, who are said to have been beyond all men in understanding; nay, indeed, it is evident that their sagacity was very much inferior to that of the king’s. 43He also excelled and distinguished himself in wisdom above those who were most eminent among the Hebrews at that time for shrewdness; those I mean were Ethan, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol. 44He also composed books of odes and songs a thousand and five, of parables and similitudes three thousand; for he spake a parable upon every sort of tree, from the hyssop to the cedar; and in like manner also about beasts, about all sorts of living creatures, whether upon the earth, or in the seas, or in the air; for he was not unacquainted with any of their natures, nor omitted inquiries about them, but described them all like a philosopher, and demonstrated his exquisite knowledge of their several properties. 45God also enabled him to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return; 46and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this: 47He put a ring that had a root of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed. 48And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man; 49and when this was done, the skill and wisdom of Solomon was shown very manifestly: for which reason it is, that all men may know the vastness of Solomon’s abilities, and how he was beloved of God, and that the extraordinary virtues of every kind with which this king was endowed may not be unknown to any people under the sun for this reason, I say, it is that we have proceeded to speak so largely of these matters.

506. Moreover Hiram, king of Tyre, when he had heard that Solonion succeeded to his father’s kingdom, was very glad of it, for he was a friend of David’s. So he sent ambassadors to him, and saluted him, and congratulated him on the present happy state of his affairs. Upon which Solomon sent him an epistle, the contents of which here follow:

51“Know thou that my father would have built a temple to God, but was hindered by wars, and continual expeditions; for he did not leave off to overthrow his enemies till he made them all subject to tribute. 52But I give thanks to God for the peace I at present enjoy, and on that account I am at leisure, and design to build a house to God, for God foretold to my father that such a house should be built by me; wherefore I desire thee to send some of thy subjects with mine to Mount Lebanon to cut down timber, for the Sidonians are more skillful than our people in cutting of wood. As for wages to the hewers of wood, I will pay whatsoever price thou shalt determine.”

537. When Hiram had read this epistle, he was pleased with it; and wrote back this answer to Solomon:

“It is fit to bless God that he hath committed thy father’s government to thee, who art a wise man, and endowed with all virtues. As for myself, I rejoice at the condition thou art in, and will be subservient to thee in all that thou sendest to me about; 54for when by my subjects I have cut down many and large trees of cedar and cypress wood, I will send them to sea, and will order my subjects to make floats of them, and to sail to what place soever of thy country thou shalt desire, and leave them there, after which thy subjects may carry them to Jerusalem. But do thou take care to procure us corn for this timber, which we stand in need of, because we inhabit in an island.”

558. The copies of these epistles remain at this day, and are preserved not only in our books, but among the Tyrians also; insomuch that if any one would know the certainty about them, he may desire of the keepers of the public records of Tyre to show him them, and he will find what is there set down to agree with what we have said. 56I have said so much out of a desire that my readers may know that we speak nothing but the truth, and do not compose a history out of some plausible relations, which deceive men and please them at the same time, nor attempt to avoid examination, nor desire men to believe us immediately; nor are we at liberty to depart from speaking truth, which is the proper commendation of an historian, and yet be blameless: but we insist upon no admission of what we say, unless we be able to manifest its truth by demonstration, and the strongest vouchers.

579. Now king Solomon, as soon as this epistle of the king of Tyre was brought him, commended the readiness and good-will he declared therein, and repaid him in what he desired, and sent him yearly twenty thousand cori of wheat, and as many baths of oil: now the bath is able to contain seventy-two sextaries. He also sent him the same measure of wine. 58So the friendship between Hiram and Solomon hereby increased more and more; and they swore to continue it for ever. And the king appointed a tribute to be laid on all the people, of thirty thousand laborers, whose work he rendered easy to them by prudently dividing it among them; for he made ten thousand cut timber in Mount Lebanon for one month; and then to come home, and rest two months, until the time when the other twenty thousand had finished their task at the appointed time; 59and so afterward it came to pass that the first ten thousand returned to their work every fourth month: and it was Adoram who was over this tribute. There were also of the strangers who were left by David, who were to carry the stones and other materials, seventy thousand; and of those that cut the stones, eighty thousand. Of these three thousand and three hundred were rulers over the rest. 60He also enjoined them to cut out large stones for the foundations of the temple, and that they should fit them and unite them together in the mountain, and so bring them to the city. This was done not only by our own country workmen, but by those workmen whom Hiram sent also.

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