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Solomon

solomon’s kings jerusalem throne

The wise King Solomon was the son of *David and *Bathsheba and the successor to the kingdom of David (c.971–931 B.C. ) His lengthy reign was a period of great prosperity and stability, marked by artistic achievements (e.g., the construction of the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem), much foreign trade, as well as toleration of pagan religions (which eventually resulted in *God’s punishment during the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam). Solomon’s reputation for great *wisdom, which he requested from and was granted by God (1 Kings 3:5-15), gained him international fame during his lifetime and long after. A model ruler over a splendid court, Solomon is also credited with composing the biblical books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Wisdom of Solomon, the Song of Songs, and several Psalms.


Illustrations of the life of Solomon frequently found in medieval art include his anointing and coronation (he rode into Jerusalem on David’s mule to be anointed by the priest and later placed his mother on the throne next to him; medieval theologians found these episodes as prefigurations of *Christ’s *Entry into Jerusalem and the *Coronation of the Virgin); his wise handling of rival claimants to an infant ; the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem; and the visit of the *Queen of Sheba to Solomon’s court.


The detailed descriptions of the materials, construction, and objects placed within the Temple (1 Kings 6-8), as well as the description of Solomon’s stunning throne (1 Kings 10:18-20) provided inspiration for many medieval commentators. The throne of the wise Solomon was likened to the Virgin *Mary the “molten sea” supported by twelve metal oxen (1 Kings 7:23-26) inspired twelfth-century baptismal fonts; the seven-branched candlestick and *Ark of the Covenant are also illustrated in art.


Illustrations of the life of Solomon are found in biblical manuscripts from the Carolingian period onward. He is frequently paired with the Queen of Sheba in Gothic portal sculpture and also appears in stained glass and fresco.

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