Shelomo's Monarchy in Jerusalem (V): The Fall

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Jerusalem in the Bible
Yeshivat Har Etzion


Shiur #15: Shelomo's Monarchy In Jerusalem (V)

The Fall

 

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

I.          SHELMO'S MARRIAGE TO THE DAUGHTER OF PHAROAH

 

1)         THE DESCRIPTION IN SCRIPTURE

 

The book of Melakhim relates to Shelomo's marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh in several places:

 

And Shelomo became allied by marriage with Pharaoh, King of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the City of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about. (I Melakhim 3:1)

 

Shelomo made also a house for Pharaoh's daughter, whom he had taken to wife, like this porch. (Ibid. 7:8)

 

For Pharaoh King of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present to his daughter, Shelomo's wife. (Ibid. 9:16)

 

But King Shelomo loved many foreign women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, Moavite, Ammonite, Edomite, Tzidonian, and Hittite women of the nations concerning whom the Lord said to the children of Israel, You shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in to you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods; Shelomo attached himself to these in love. (Ibid. 11:1-2)

 

            Let us take note of several points. First of all, Shelomo's marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh is initially presented as a political marriage: "And Shelomo became allied by marriage with Pharaoh, King of Egypt." In this sense, there was no comparable marriage in history: this is the only clearly documented case of a marriage of the daughter of a King of Egypt – one of the great powers of the ancient world – to a foreign ruler!

 

            Following their marriage, Shelomo takes the daughter of Pharaoh to the City of David, and Scripture implies that it was his intention to settle her at some later stage in a house of her own, to be erected among the royal buildings.[1] The importance of Pharaoh's daughter in Shelomo's kingdom is attested to by the fact that she is the only woman designated as "Shelomo's wife." Take note: at this point, Scripture expresses no criticism of this marriage. Ultimately, however, Pharaoh's daughter is included among the woman mentioned at the beginning of chapter 11 to whom Shelomo attached himself in love despite the fact that they were idol-worshippers.

 

2)         THE TIMING

 

Assuming that the order of the chapters reflects the actual chronology, Shelomo entered into this marriage at the beginning of his rule. Indeed, the Malbim on the verse, "And Shelomo became allied by marriage with Pharaoh, king of Egypt" (I Melakhim 3:1), writes:

 

After establishing his kingdom among his people, he also established it in relation to the surrounding kings, by becoming allied through marriage with a great king, ruler of a vast empire in those days, and thus he found external help against his enemies.

 

            The words, "after establishing his kingdom among his people," relate to the verse, "And the kingdom was established in the hand of Shelomo" (I Melakhim 2:46), which immediately precedes the description of Shelomo's marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh, and closes the chapter dealing with the killing of Adoniyahu, Yoav and Shimi (the killing of Shimi – which took place three years into Shelomo's kingship [Ibid., v. 39] – is described in that very verse!). In this comment that Shelomo's marriage to Pharaoh's daughter took place at the beginning of Shelomo's kingship, as is implied by the order of Scripture, Malbim follows in the footsteps of Ulla:

 

Rabbi Chiyya bar Ami said in the name of Ulla: A person should always live in the vicinity of his master, for as long as Shimi ben Gera was alive, Shelomo did not marry Pharaoh's daughter. (Berakhot 8a)[2]

            As Rashi explains there:

 

"For as long as Shimi ben Gera was alive, etc." For immediately following the death of Shimi, it is written: "And Shelomo became allied by marriage with Pharaoh."

 

            The Radak on I Melakhim 3:1 writes:

 

"And Shelomo became allied by marriage" – [The Sages] said about this that for this reason this follows immediately after the death of Shimi, for as long as Shimi was alive, Shelomo did not marry Pharaoh's daughter, because he feared him and he would have rebuked him for this, he being his master. It was during the fourth year that he married the daughter of Pharaoh, for Shimi lived in Jerusalem for three years.

 

            The author of Seder Olam Rabba also maintains (chap. 15) that Shelomo married Pharaoh's daughter at the beginning of the fourth year of his kingdom, that is to say, at the same time that he began construction of the Temple.

 

            There is, however, another opinion in Chazal, according to which Shelomo's marriage to Pharaoh's daughter took place at the time of the dedication of the Temple (Vayikra Rabba 12, 5),[3] which was much later.

 

            We lack the tools to decide this disagreement,[4] though the simple understanding of the verses supports the first possibility.

 

3)         THE HALAKHIC STATUS OF THE DAUGHTER OF PHAROAH

 

            The Gemara in Yevamot (76) assumes as self-evident that Shelomo converted the daughter of Pharaoh.[5] The Abarbanel writes as well (in his commentary to I Melakhim 3:1):

 

It is clear from all this and from the plain meaning of Scripture that Shelomo did not violate the law or sin when he took Pharaoh's daughter as his wife, for he converted her, had her undergo immersion, and brought her under the wings of the Shekhina. All the more so that he took her [to wife] in order to make an alliance with Pharaoh her father. Owing to the fact that when he married her, his intentions were desirable and his actions were for the sake of Heaven, it says immediately afterwards: "And Shelomo loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father" (I Melakhim 3:3).

 

            The Rambam also relates to this issue:

 

Let it not enter your mind that Shimshon, savior of Israel, or Shelomo, King of Israel, who was called "God's friend," married foreign women while they were heathens. Rather the secret of the matter is as follows: The proper mitzva is that when a [prospective] male or female convert comes to convert, we examine whether he came to join the religion because of money that he would acquire or some position that he would gain, or fear. In the case of a man, we examine whether perhaps he cast his eyes on a Jewish woman, and in the case of a woman, we examine whether perhaps she cast her eyes on a man of the men of Israel. If no such cause is discovered, we inform them of the heavy yoke of the Torah and the burden of its performance upon the ignorant, in order that they might leave. If they accept this, and do not leave, and we see that they come out of love [of God], we accept them, as it is stated: "When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left off speaking to her" (Rut 1:18).

Therefore, the courts did not accept converts throughout the days of David and Shelomo; during the days of David, for perhaps they came out of fear, and during the days of Shelomo, for perhaps they came because of the kingdom, and goodness, and greatness that Israel was enjoying. For anyone who leaves idol worship for any of the vanities of the world is not counted among the righteous converts. But nevertheless, many converts converted [to Judaism] during the days of David and Shelomo in the presence of commoners, and the Great Court had doubts about them; they did not reject them inasmuch as they had already immersed [in a mikveh], but they did not draw them near until their end became clear.

Now Shelomo converted women and married them, and similarly Shimshon converted women and married them. It is well known that they converted only because of an ulterior motive and their conversion was not under the guidance of a court. Hence Scripture considered them as heathens and they remained forbidden. Moreover, their conduct ultimately revealed their initial intent, for they would worship false deities and build alters for them. Therefore, Scripture considered it as if [Shelomo] built them, as it states: "And then Shelomo built an altar" (I Melakhim 1:7). (Hilkhot Issurei Bi'a 13:14-16)

 

            In other words, formally speaking, Shelomo's foreign wives had converted. But since their conversion was not for the sake of Heaven, and since they continued to worship their idols, Scripture relates to them as if they were still heathens, and even attributes their actions to the discredit of Shelomo himself.

 

4)         THE SPIRITUAL MEANING

 

The prophet Yirmiyahu says:

 

For this has been to Me as a provocation of My anger and of My fury from the day that they built it and to this day; that I should remove it from before My face. (Yirmiyahu 32:31)

 

            The Radak explains:

 

"From the day that they built it" – for during the days of Shelomo who built the city and the Temple they began to offer sacrifices on the bamot, and Shelomo's wives worshipped foreign gods. From that day it was as a provocation of My anger and My fury, that is to say, it existed despite My anger and My fury, for in My anger, it should have been removed, but I was long-suffering until this day, but I will suffer no longer. And in the Midrash: On the day that the Temple was established, Shelomo married the daughter of Pharaoh.

 

            Radak's understanding is based on a Gemara in Nidda (70b):

 

One verse says: "For the Lord has chosen Zion" (Tehillim 132:13), and another verse says: "For this has been to Me as a provocation of My anger and of My fury from the day that they built it and to this day" (Yirmiyahu 32:31)! Here before Shelomo married Pharaoh's daughter; here after Shelomo married Pharaoh's daughter.

 

            According to the Gemara, from the time of Shelomo's marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh, God wanted to destroy Jerusalem (something that negates His selection of the city).

 

            Vayikra Rabba (12, 5), according to which Shelomo's marriage to Pharaoh's daughter took place at the time of the dedication of the Temple, has exceedingly harsh things to say about their wedding night:

 

Rabbi Yudan said: All those seven years that Shelomo built the Temple, he did not drink any wine. Once he built it and married Batya daughter of Pharaoh, that night he drank wine. Two celebrations took place, one over the construction of the Temple and one over the daughter of Pharaoh. The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Which one shall I accept, of these or of these? It then entered His mind to destroy Jerusalem. This is what is stated: "For this has been to Me as a provocation of My anger and of My fury, etc." Rabbi Hillel bar Helene said: Like one who passes through a filthy place and turns up his nose.

Rabbo Chunya said: That night, the daughter of Pharaoh danced eighty kinds of dances, and Shelomo slept until the fourth hour of the day, and the keys to the Temple were under his head. This is what we have learned: Regarding the daily morning offering that it is offered at the fourth hour (Eduyot 6:1). His mother went in and rebuked him. And some say: Yarovam ben Nevat went in and rebuked him.[6]

 

            Bamidbar Rabba (10, 4) records a parallel Midrash:

 

This is what is stated: "The words of Lemuel the king" (Mishlei 31:1) – Why was Shelomo called Lemuel? Rabbi Yishmael said: On that very night that Shelomo completed the construction of the Temple, he married Batya, daughter of Pharaoh, and there were joyous cries from the celebration of the Temple, and joyous cries from the daughter of Pharoah, and the joyous cries of the celebration of the daughter of Pharaoh were louder than the joyous cries regarding the Temple… Therefore [Shelomo] was called Lemuel, because he cast off the yoke of the heavenly kingdom, that is to say, Why do I need God (lama li El). At that time, it entered God's mind to destroy Jerusalem. This is what is stated: "For this has been to Me as a provocation of My anger and of My fury, etc."                   

 

            And in Shabbat 56b it says:

 

Rav Yehuda said in the name of Shemuel: When Shelomo married the daughter of Pharaoh, she brought into the marriage a thousand kinds of musical instrument, and said to him: Thus we do for this idol, and thus we do for that idol. And he did not raise any objections.

Rav Yehuda said in the name of Shemuel: When Shelomo married Pharaoh's daughter, Gavriel went down and stuck a reed into the sea, and it gathered a bank around it, on which the great city of Rome was built.

 

            According to this harsh statement of Shemuel, Shelomo's marriage to Pharaoh's daughter heralded the beginning of the building of Rome, which, according to Chazal, represents the people of Israel's greatest enemy.

 

            Let us try to summarize what emerges from all of the aforementioned midrashim. According to these midrashim, Scripture points out in various places the far-reaching consequences of Shelomo's marriage to Pharaoh's daughter, with respect to the fate of the people in general and the destruction of Jerusalem in particular.

 

            Our working assumption is that of Rabbi Yose, that when he married the foreign women, Shelomo's intentions were for the sake of Heaven, "to draw them to the words of the Torah, and bring them under the wings of the Shekhina" (Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin 2:6). The decision (according to the Midrash) to hold the wedding at the same time as the dedication of the Temple stems apparently from the very same objective. By marrying Pharaoh's daughter and bringing her into his house at the very moment of Israel's greatest intimacy with God, the day of the dedication of the permanent Temple, Shelomo tried to bring her as well under the wings of the Shekhina (we already noted that Shelomo understood that the Temple was meant for the entire world). Therefore, Shelomo fixed the day of his wedding - his personal day of rejoicing – on the day of the dedication of the Temple (see Ta'anit 4:8). According to his understanding, not only is there no contradiction between the two, but rather they parallel and complement each other.

 

            In reality, however, things turned out in an entirely different manner. The wedding celebration blurred the celebration over the dedication of the Temple, and in certain senses this indicates a misunderstanding of the relationship between the resting of God's kingdom in its permanent place in the Temple, and the building of the king's private house with the daughter of Pharaoh. Shelomo's interpretation of his sitting on God's throne as king (I Divrei Ha-yamim 29:23) went too far – as if the kingdom of flesh and blood and the kingdom of God are one and the same – and led to inappropriate violations of boundaries, because of which Shelomo's marriage that night was viewed as the very opposite of the building of God's Temple.[7]

 

II.        BRINGING THE ARK INTO THE HOLY OF HOLIES

 

The transfer of the Ark from the tent in the City of David to the Temple is described in I Melakhim  8:1-11 and in II Divrei Ha-yamim  5:2-10. Chazal record many traditions on the matter; here we shall bring only one of them and try to understand its significance. It is stated in Shemot Rabba (8, 1, with a parallel in Tanchuma, Va'era 7):

 

"And it came to pass on the day when the Lord spoke…" "And the Lord said to Moshe, See, I have made you a god to Pharaoh" (Shemot 6:28; Ibid. 7:1). This is [the meaning of] what is written: "Lift up your heads, O you gates" (Tehillim 24:7). Shelomo uttered this verse when he brought the Ark into the Holy of Holies. He had made an Ark of ten cubits. When he reached the entranceway of the Temple, the entrance was ten cubits and the Ark was ten cubits, and ten cubits cannot enter through ten cubits. And moreover, there were people carrying it. When he came to bring it in, he was unable [to do so]. Shelomo stood up, embarrassed, not knowing what to do. He began to pray before the Holy One, blessed be He. What did Shelomo do? Our Rabbis of blessed memory said: He went and brought the Ark of David, and said: "O Lord God, do not turn away the face of Your anointed" (II Divrei Ha-yamim 6:42)… And Shelomo said: Master of the universe, do it for the sake of this one, as it is stated: "Remember the faithful love of David your servant" (II Divrei Ha-yamim, Ibid.). Immediately he was answered. What is written afterward? "Now when Shelomo had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house" (Ibid. 7:1). And the holy spirit cried out: "So I praised the dead that are already dead more than the living that are yet alive" (Kohelet 4:2). Shelomo began to say: "Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in" (Tehillim 24:7). The gates said to him: "Who is this King of glory" (Ibid. v. 10). He said to them: "The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory (sela)" (Ibid.). As soon as he said this to them, they were appeased; were it not for this they wanted to smash his head and kill him.

 

            This Midrash is very astonishing: Did not Shelomo, the wisest of men, know that a ten cubit Ark would be unable to fit through a ten cubit entranceway, and all the more so when you take into consideration those carrying the Ark as well? And why was another Ark needed in the first place? What was missing in the Ark that had been in the Mishkan (this is particularly difficult according to the Tanchuma's reading, "He made an Ark of ten cubits and put into it the Ark [that had been made by Moshe], and carried it")? There is no doubt that Chazal are sharply criticizing Shelomo, but what exactly is the criticism?

 

            What leads us to an understanding of the matter is the end of the Midrash: "As soon as he said this to them, they were appeased; were it not for this they wanted to smash his head and kill him." Why did the gates want to kill Shelomo? What answer did they expect other than "The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory"? The answer to this question appears in the version found in the Tanchuma: "They thought that he was referring to himself when he said 'the king of glory'"!

 

            It appears then that this Midrash as well, like the other midrashim about Shelomo's marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh, revolves around the question of the place, power and authority of a human king in relation to the kingship of the King, King of kings. The first part of the midrash illustrates this problem by way of the measurements of the Ark – the vessel that symbolizes God's throne in the Temple. The Ark fashioned by Shelomo cannot fit through the entranceway to the Holy of Holies. In his attempt to push his kingdom beyond its appropriate boundaries, Shelomo pushes aside, as it were, the feet of the Shekhina, and the Ark that he had made can only dwell in its resting place by virtue of the faithful love of David, who submitted himself to God even in his kingship.

 

III.       PREPARING A PLACE TO BURY THE ARK

 

In II Divrei Ha-yamim 35:3, King Yoshiyahu says to the Levites as follows:

 

Put the holy Ark in the house which Shelomo the son of David King of Israel did build; you need no longer carry it upon your shoulders: serve now the Lord your God and His people Israel.

 

            The Radak explains (ad loc.):

 

Perhaps Menasheh had removed it [the Ark] from there when he placed the idol in the house of God. But it may be asked: How is it that he not return it there after having gone in, repented, and removed the image from the house of God?

Our Rabbis, of blessed memory, explained that he commanded that the Ark should be buried so that it not go into exile with the captives. And they said: There was a stone in the western side of the Holy of Holies, on which the Ark rested, and before it was the jar of manna and the staff of Aharon. When Shelomo built the Temple, which would eventually be destroyed, he constructed a place in which to bury the Ark deep in the ground, and that stone covered  that place. And King Yoshiyahu issued a command and they buried the Ark in that place that Shelomo had built. As it is stated: "Put the holy Ark," and together with the Ark, they buried Aharon's staff, the jar of manna and the anointing oil.[8]

 

            What is the meaning of preparing a place to bury the Ark? Did Shelomo, with his holy spirit, understand where that would lead? It is difficult to answer this question according to the plain meaning of the text, but homiletically we can suggest that indeed Shelomo understood, on his own or through prophecy, the significance of his actions.

 

IV.       THE BUILDING OF BAMOT FOR IDOL WORSHIP

 

1)         THE LOCATION OF THE BAMOT

 

I Melakhim describes the erection of the bamot as follow:

 

Then did Shelomo build a bama for Kemosh, the abomination of Mo'av, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molekh, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his foreign wives, who burnt incense and sacrificed to their gods. (I Melakhim 11:7-8)

 

            These bamot stood until almost the end of the First Temple period (!), when they were removed by Yoshiyahu. As it is stated:

 

And the bamot that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the Mount of Corruption (Har ha-Mashchit), which Shelomo the king of Israel had built for Ashtoret the abomination of the Tzidonim, and for Kemosh the abomination of Mo'av, and for Mikom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. (II Melakhim 23:13)

 

            This is a fine example of the principle, "The words of the Torah are poor in one place and rich in another" (or as we would say today, Scripture "explains itself"). In I Melakhim we are told that the bamot were built "in the hill that is before Jerusalem," that is, in a hill to the east of Jerusalem.[9] In II Melakhim, Scripture adds and explains that the bamot "before Jerusalem, on the right hand of the Mount of Corruption," that is, to the south of the Mount of Corruption. What is "the Mount of Corruption"? Targum Yonatan renders this phrase: "Before Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Olives." The Radak expands on the matter:

 

"The Mount of Corruption" – the Mount of Olives. And it was called the Mount of Corruption.[10] To its disgrace, because of the idol worship conducted there, it was called the Mount of Corruption.[11]

 

            In light of all this information, it seems that we can identify the place as the wooded ridge to the east of the city, above the village of Shilo'ach,[12] a little south of the peak of the Mount of Olives.

 

2)         THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LOCATION

 

In our usual manner, we shall try to demonstrate here as well the spiritual meaning of the topography: Why did Shelomo choose to locate the bamot dedicated to idol worship precisely in that spot – due east of the City of David, on the eastern side of the Kidron Wadi?

 

a.         Opposite the city, but not opposite God's Temple: First of all, it seems that Shelomo chose this ridge, to the south of the peak of the Mount of Olives, in order that the bamot should not stand opposite the Temple, but rather further south, opposite the city and outside of it.[13]

 

b.         Idol worship – in a high place. We already demonstrated earlier that construction on a high place was characteristic of idol worship, because according to idolatrous thinking, physical height expresses greatness and might, and draws man near to his deity (see at length, shiur no. 16, in last year's series: "The Territory of Binyamin – the Territory of the Shekhina [I]).

 

c.         Facing eastward to the gods of Ammon and Mo'av: Shelomo's wives worshipped the gods of Ammon and Mo'av, and erecting the bamot on the eastern side of the city allowed them to face eastward, toward their country and toward their gods.

 

d.         Facing eastward to the sun: Turning to the sun in idol worship is mentioned many times in Scripture. Inasmuch as it is a fundamental source of vitality (the hours of light are the hours of work, heat, photosynthesis, etc.), the sun served already in the most ancient periods as a primary object of idol worship. Man's natural and understandable admiration of the sun (which diminished significantly since the invention of florescent lighting) quickly turned into worship of that source of light, heat and life.[14] Even Avraham Avinu turned at first, according to a famous Midrash, to the sun and the moon, and only after they each set and then rose again did he understand that they must have a common master. And it is not by chance that according to the Rambam, the worship of the celestial bodies assumed a central role in the process by which idol worship came into being (Hilkhot Avoda Zara 1:1).[15] The construction of the bamot in the days of Shelomo was done in the classic and original style of idol worship: facing eastward.

 

In absolute contrast to the idolatrous conception, the Temple of God faces westward, and its most sanctified place – the Devir – is on its western side. In Bava Batra 25b, Rabbi Akiva claims that the Shekhina is in the west, and the Gemara offers two explanations of the phenomenon:

 

a)         In contrast to the idolaters, who face eastward. Thus, for example, we find in Mishna, Sukka 5:4:

 

They would reach the gate that faced east, [and then] they would turn their faces westward and say: "Our forefathers, who were in this place, 'with their backs toward the Temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they were prostrating themselves towards the sun eastwards' (Yechezkel 8:16), but our eyes are toward the Lord."

 

            The Rambam, in his Guide of the Perplexed (III, chap. 45), also notes that at the Akeida, Avraham Avinu established the altar on the western side of the mountain, in contrast to the practice of the idolaters.

 

b)         "The host of heaven worships you" (Nechemya 9:6) – the Gemara sees the rising of the celestial bodies in the east and their movement toward the west as daily worship of God. The celestial bodies, of course, lack free choice, and in this sense, a person who serves in the Temple is sort of a prayer leader on behalf of all of creation; as if every day he bears the sun, the moon, and the stars, and prostrates himself westward, toward the Shekhina in the Holy of Holies.[16]

 

The assertion that the Shekhina is in the west finds many expressions in the life of the Temple:

 

*     The blood of the red heifer was sprinkled on the Mount of Olives "towards the front of the Tent of Meeting" (Bamidbar 19:4), and therefore the eastern wall of the Temple Mount was lower, in order to allow the kohen who was sprinkling the blood to see the entranceway of the Temple.

*     For the same reason, all the eastern entranceways in the Temple were lined up on the same axis (in the Second Temple: the eastern gate of the Temple Mount, called the Shoshan Gate; the gate to the women's courtyard; the Nikanor Gate; and the entranceways to the Ulam, the Heikhal, and the Holy of Holies.

*     A person who brings a sacrifice faces westward; the animal being sacrificed faces westward (at the time of semikha, when hands are laid on the animal).

*     The western light of the menorah had unique importance.

*     The daily offering brought in the morning was slaughtered near the north-west corner of the altar, and the daily offering brought in the afternoon was slaughtered near its north-east corner.

 

To summarize, the east-west axis in the Temple expressed the absolute contrast to idol worship, and even more than that, the submission of all of creation to the Creator and its recognition of His Kingdom.[17]

 

We see then that the bamot built by Shelomo expressed a turning to idol worship in all its aspects – its form, its location, and its direction – and in many senses constituted absolute opposition to the Temple. As stated above, these bamot stood in Jerusalem until the days of Yoshiyahu. It turns out then that almost from the first days of the city, and for most of the First Temple period, a pilgrim arriving in Jerusalem was faced with two alternatives: proceeding northward to Mount Moriah and the Temple of God, or crossing the Kidron Wadi eastward and practicing idol worship at the bamot built on the ridge south of the Mount of Olives.

 

V.        MULTIPLYING SILVER AND GOLD, HORSES AND FOREIGN WOMEN

 

I Melakhim 10-11 describes how King Shelomo violated the three prohibitions applying to a king, multiplying horses (coming from Egypt), wives (who turn his heart away), and silver and gold.[18] Ironically, it was precisely the first king who was supposed to represent the ideal king in Israel who stumbled in those very things that are supposed to distinguish the king of Israel from the kings of the other nations, and he fails to establish a fitting kingdom.

 

SUMMARY

 

            In this shiur we examined the various components of Shelomo's fall. The common denominator of all of them is the blurring on the part of the first permanent king of Israel of the limits of his authority and rule in relation to the kingdom of God. The consequences were very grave: despite the outstanding starting conditions, it was precisely in the days of Shelomo that it was decreed that the kingdom would be split and the Temple destroyed.

 

            To complete our analysis of the period of Shelomo, next week's shiur will be devoted to an examination of the Milo, which well illustrates Shelomo's attitude towards his people.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)



 

 

 

 

 



[1] The location of her house and the relationship between it and the Milo will be discussed in next week's shiur that will deal with the Milo.

[2] On Shimi ben Gera's being Shelomo's teacher, see also Gittin  59a.

[3] Regarding this Midrash and its meaning, see below.

[4] It is possible that the two midrashim can be reconciled as follows: The alliance with the King of Egypt was made during the fourth year, at which point Pharaoh's daughter was brought to the City of David, but the marriage itself only took place at the conclusion of the construction of the two houses and her entry into her own house.

[5] The Gemara there discusses whether a female Egyptian convert is immediately fit for marriage to a born Jew or only after the third generation. The Gemara also raises the possibility that Shelomo never actually married the daughter of Pharaoh or the other foreign women, but rather "his intentions were fornication" (Rashi, ad loc.) , but because of the excessive love that he had for Pharaoh's daughter, Scripture regards him as if he had married her. We shall stick to the plain meaning of the text, according to which it is clear that Shelomo married these women, as understood by the Rambam to be cited below.

In connection with the conversion of Pharaoh's daughter, it should be noted that there are those who understood that this is alluded to in Tehillim 45 (see summary of the psalm in the Da'at Mikra commentary to Tehillim, p. 263). The psalm, which is addressed to the king, states: "Kings' daughters are among your favorites; upon your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ofir. Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear; forget also your own beauty: for he is your lord, and do homage to him" (Tehillim 45:10-12). The psalm refers to a marriage with the daughter of a foreign king, and the psalmist turns to the queen/bride and admonishes her to forget her nation, its customs and the idolatry that she had learned in her father's house, and be loyal to the king. It is possible that the expression "shir yedidot" (Ibid. v. 1) in the psalm's heading alludes to the name of Shelomo – Yedidya.

[6] We shall deal at length with Yarovam's rebuke in the next shiur where we shall discuss the Milo.

[7] See Rabbi Kook's Ayin Aya commentary to tractate Shabbat (sec. 75), where he expounds on this matter at length.

[8] It is interesting that Chazal attribute the burying of the Ark that Shelomo had brought into the Temple to Yoshiyahu, the very same king who abolished the bamot that Shelomo had built east of the city for idol worship, and which stood for most of the First Temple period.

[9] In Scripture, the basic orientation is toward the east; thus "forward" (panim or kedem) is east, "backward" (achor) is west, "right" is south and "left" is north.

The issue of directions in Scripture is a very broad and interesting topic. According to the simple understanding "kedem" is east, because the sun appears from that direction – a fundamental fact that impacted not only on day-to-day life, but also on matters of faith (as we shall discuss below).

In this context, it is also interesting to note the connection between the concepts of time and place in biblical Hebrew: the word "kedem" is used also in the sense of the "the earlier period," since that is the time that is before us and we can see it. "Achor," on the other hand, refers to the future, which only the prophets can see. In modern Hebrew, the concepts have been reversed, and the word "kedma" refers to the future.

[10] The term Har ha-Moshcha is found also in Chazal. See, e.g., Rosh Ha-shana 2:4.

[11] We bring here the continuation of the Radak's comment, because of its importance for understanding the removal of the bamot by Yoshiyahu: "'Which Shelomo had built' – how is it that they were not destroyed by Assa and Yehoshafat, who destroyed all the idols in Eretz Yisrael? They destroyed the idols, but they did not destroy the bamot, because at the time they were used for offerings to God. For regarding all of them, it is stated: 'And the bamot were not removed; the people were still bringing sacrifices and burning incense on the bamot.' And Yoshiyahu demolished the bamot as well, because they had originally been built for idol worship, or in order that they not be used even for sacrifices to God, for inasmuch as the Temple was standing, the bamot were forbidden. Therefore, it is written about him: 'And like him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might' (II Melakhim 23:25). For the kings before him did not remove the bamot, even though they were good kings."

[12] Today a Christian hostel, the House of Abraham, stands on the site.

[13] We have already mentioned previously that already in very ancient times this ridge was used as a burial ground.

[14] We already saw above that for this reason east was regarded in the ancient world as "panim," forward. And indeed ancient maps have an eastward orientation: they are drawn with east in the upper portion.

[15] Christianity has perpetuated the idolatrous custom of facing eastward in that its churches face in that direction.

[16] The idea that man in his daily service of God gives expression to all of creation's yearning for the Divine follows also from the Gemara in Berakhot 9b, which proposes as an asmakhta for the custom of the prayer of vatikin the verse, "May they fear You with the sun" (Tehillim 72:5).

[17] In Scripture, west expresses standing before God, whereas going eastward usually denotes distancing from God. For example, following their sin, Adam and Chava are sent eastward from the Garden of Eden; Kayin is sent eastward; Lot chooses the east; the children of Avraham's concubines are sent eastward; Esav goes eastward to Mount Se'ir; the two and a half tribes choose the east bank of the Jordan; the Shekhina leaves the Temple and heads eastward (Yechezkel 11); and others. This is a broad topic, worthy of a separate shiur.

[18] Shelomo's sin with his foreign wives is still mentioned in the days of Nechemya: "Did not Shelomo king of Israel sin by these things? and even though among many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless, the foreign women caused even him to sin" (Nechemya 13:26).