1 Kings 11
Solomon quits on God
Solomon marries idol-loving women1King Solomon loved women. He loved his Egyptian wife, the daughter of Pharaoh. But he loved hundreds of other women, too. He married many women who weren’t Israelites. He married women from the nations of Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, as well as Hittites. 2These are the same nations the LORD told people in Israel to avoid.  He said, “Don’t marry them. If you do, they’ll convince you to worship their gods.”  But Solomon loved who he loved.
3Solomon married 700 princesses  and 300 concubines.  Dramatically outnumbered, Solomon lost the battle of the gods to his foreign wives. They turned him away from the LORD. 4By the time Solomon grew into an old man, his wives had completely eroded his devotion to the LORD. Solomon’s father, David, had stayed true to God. Solomon did not. He worshiped other gods.
5Solomon worshiped Astarte,  goddess of Sidon. And he worshiped Milcom,  the disgusting filth of a god that the people of Ammon worship. 6Solomon got it wrong. His father David got it right; he obeyed the LORD. But Solomon decided not to obey God.
7Solomon built a hilltop shrine for worshiping Chemosh,  god of Moab. And on the Mount of Olives, the ridge of hills east of Jerusalem, he built a shrine to worship Molech,  another repulsive god of Ammon. 8He built similar places of worship for all his foreign wives, so they could continue worshiping their own gods by burning incense and offering sacrifices.
9The LORD was furious with Solomon. The LORD had already appeared to Solomon twice and talked with him. Yet the king still decided to reject his own God, the God of Israel. 10Solomon did that even though God had personally told him not to worship other gods. 
God condemns Solomon11The LORD told Solomon, “So, you’ve made up your mind. You’ve decided not to obey the law, follow my teachings, or do what I said. Well, here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to rip your kingdom out from under you like a rug. Then I’m going to give it like a welcome mat to one of your servants.
12But I don’t want this to reflect on your father David. So, I won’t do it until you’re dead. But after that, I’ll tear the kingdom away from your son. 13Not the whole kingdom. I’ll leave him his own tribe of Judah. And I’ll leave him Jerusalem, the city I’ve chosen for my Temple.
The rise of Solomon’s enemy, Hadad14The LORD convinced Hadad, a man from the royal family in Edom, to take a stand against Solomon. 15Years earlier, back when David’s army destroyed the cities of Edom, David’s commander Joab decided to kill every male in the country. 16So, after winning the battles, Joab kept the soldiers in Edom an extra six months, to exterminate all the men and boys.
17Hadad was one of the survivors who managed to escape. He was a young boy then, and he fled to Egypt with some of his father’s servants. 18They headed first for the territory of Midian. Along the way, in the Paran Desert, others joined them, and they decided to continue to Egypt. When Pharaoh the king of Egypt found out who Hadad was, he gave him some land, a house to live in, and a food allowance.
19Pharaoh grew so impressed by Hadad that he brought him into the family, by marriage. Hadad married Pharaoh’s sister-in-law—the sister of Pharaoh’s wife, Queen Tahpenes. 20Hadad’s wife gave birth to their son, Genubath. Queen Tahpenes let the young boy grow up among her own children.
21When David and Joab died, news eventually reached Hadad in Egypt. With the threat of those men gone, Hadad asked Pharoah, “Let me go back to my own country.” 22Pharoah said, “Why? Don’t you have everything you need right here?” Hadad said, “This is something I have to do.”
Another enemy for Solomon, Rezon23God nudged a man named Rezon to stand against Solomon, too. Rezon was the son of Eliada and a servant of King Hadadezer of Zobah—until he ran away.
24Rezon attracted a group of followers who became raiders on the run. David’s army defeated King Hadadezer. And Rezon fled with his followers to Damascus. That’s where he became king of Syria, and an enemy of Israel.
25Rezon despised Israel and remained Israel’s constant enemy for as long as Solomon reigned. Rezon and Hadad caused Solomon a lot of trouble.
God promotes Jeroboam to king26Jeroboam was one of King Solomon’s top officials until he decided to become king. Jeroboam was the son of Nebat and Zeruah, who had become a widow. The family came from the town of Zeredah, in the tribal territory of Ephraim.
27There’s a reason Jeroboam decided to launch a coup against Solomon. It all began when Solomon’s workers were building the Millo  terraces between the City of David and the Temple-Palace complex higher up the hill. 28Solomon noticed what a hard-working and savvy young man Jeroboam was. So, Solomon made him foreman over all the men drafted  from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh to work on the project.
29It wasn’t long after that when a prophet approached Jeroboam as he was leaving Jerusalem. The prophet Ahijah from Shiloh was wearing a new cloak. And the two were standing there alone on the open trail. 30Ahijah took off his cloak and ripped it into 12 pieces.
31He told Jeroboam, “Take 10 pieces for yourself. The LORD, the God of Israel has a message for you: ‘I’m going to take the kingdom away from Solomon. I’m going to give you 10 of the 12 tribes. 32I’ll let him keep one, for David’s sake and for the sake of Jerusalem, the one city I chose for the Temple, as Israel’s place of worship.
33I’m doing this because Solomon quit on me. He’s worshiping Astarte, god of Sidon, and Chemosh, god of Moab, and Milcom, god of Ammon. Solomon’s father, David, had remained devoted to me. But not Solomon. He didn’t obey the law, respect what I said, or follow the path I gave him.
34Despite Solomon’s disobedience, I won’t take his kingdom until he’s dead. I don’t want it to reflect on David, who remained devoted to me. 35But I will take the kingdom from his son. And I’ll give you 10 of the tribes. 36I’ll leave his son with just one tribe, in memory of David. And I’ll give him the city of Jerusalem, the city I chose as Israel’s place to meet with me in worship. 37But I’m putting you in charge as king of Israel. You will do what you choose to do with that power.
38I’ll make you a promise, just like I did for David. If you obey the law, do as I say, and follow the path I map for you, I’ll stay with you. I’ll make your family into a dynasty of rulers over Israel. 39This is how I will punish David’s descendants. But I won’t keep on punishing them.’” 40Solomon found out about what God told Jeroboam and he put out a hit on him, ordering him killed. Jeroboam fled to King Shishak of Egypt and stayed there until Solomon died.
Solomon, dead and buried41The rest of Solomon’s story—his wisdom and what he did with his life—is written in the Acts of Solomon.  42Solomon reigned over Israel 40 years.  43Solomon died and the people buried him in the City of David, the town named after his father. Solomon’s son Rehoboam became Israel’s next king.
According to Moses, Israelites were supposed to kill the locals, not marry them and make more of them. “When the LORD your God gives them to you, you’ll need to finish them off. After you defeat them in battle, wipe them out by killing them all. Don’t make any peace treaty with them. Don’t show them mercy” (Deuteronomy 7:2). Solomon showed them his bedroom.
Kings in ancient times had a custom of creating peace treaties by marrying into the royal families of nations they wanted as allies. They figured a foreign king would be less likely to attack the city were his daughter lived with another king or a prince. But 700 treaties is a bit much, some might conclude. When Israelites invaded the land 200-400 years earlier (scholars disagree on the date of Moses), the Bible listed only seven nations larger and stronger than Israel (Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10; 24:11). Not 700.
A concubine was a woman who lived with a man in a legally binding relationship as a secondary wife. But she often had less social status and fewer privileges than a wife. The reason for having a concubine wasn’t necessarily for the pleasure of it, but for the sons of it. People wanted kids. Especially boys. Big families provided more security. They worked together and took care of each other.
Astarte is the Greek form of the goddess also known as Ashtarte, Ashtaroth, and similar variations. She was a goddess of fertility, like Baal, a male god. But Astarte was also a go-to goddess for matters of love and war. Sometimes she’s described as Baal’s wife. Her figurines portray her as well-endowed, and then some—with her privates exposed and prominently displayed. People worshiped her throughout and beyond what is now Israel and Palestinian Territory. When Philistines defeated King Saul, they hung his armor as a war trophy in a temple devoted to Astarte (1 Samuel 31:10).
Milcom shows up elsewhere in the Bible and in archaeological discoveries around Ammon, capital of Jordan. Some features on statues of him suggest a connection to the Egyptian god Osiris, best known as god of the dead and the afterlife.
Chemosh was Moab’s national god, and possibly the Ammonites as well. When King Solomon married into the religion and built a sanctuary to Chemosh on the Mount of Olives, he legitimized this idolatry for about 400 years. Israel’s idolatry, the prophets said, would be why God would allow invaders to wipe the Jewish nation off the political map. Babylonians from what is now Iraq did that in 586 BC. The god’s name shows up in a Canaanite inscription chiseled into a stone record known as the Mesha Stele or the Moabites Stone, from the 800’s BC. It’s on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Scholars debate who or what Molech was and whether children were literally sacrificed or perhaps figuratively presented to Molech and dedicated to him. Many scholars say Molech was a god, because of the way Bible writers describe people prostituting themselves to Molech (Leviticus 20:5). Most scholars seem to agree that some people of Israel “ built places to worship Baal so they could burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to Molech” (Jeremiah 32:35 New Century Version). Scholars, however, question why this note got added to a chapter about sex sins. Theories: Sex sins and killing your own children each have the power to destroy a family. Both sins are rotten to the core and despicable. Molech’s worship may have focused on family, such as communicating with the dead and worshiping the peoples’ ancestors.
1 Kings 6:6-9.
The writer doesn’t tell us what Millo means. The root at the bottom of the Hebrew term means to “fill.” Some say the Millo may have been a bit like a retaining wall or an abutment to support the south side of the Temple Mount area. Many scholars say it probably was once part of a stair-step structure discovered by British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon. And that structure may have been part of a large stone building discovered in 2005 by Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar.
We’re walking about forced labor. They weren’t slaves. Solomon reportedly enslaved only non-Israelites (1 Kings 9:22). But he did draft his own people for work projects, much like the military sometimes drafts soldiers for war.
The Acts of Solomon is a history book lost to history.
“Forty years” was a common way of saying “many years,” or “a long time.” The symbolic number shows up about 150 times in the Bible. It was probably intended to be taken no more literally than our modern saying “at the eleventh hour.” “Eleventh hour” means at the last moment, not 11 o-clock.
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