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King Solomon &
Construction Of The First Temple: Year 2928, 832 Years Before The Common Era.

The Torah both authorizes and mandates the construction of a Temple of G-d on a permanent site. The Temple is to serve as a central place of worship for all Mankind. The manner of worship is also specified in the Torah.

Its location was concealed from the people who entered the Promised Land. Perhaps this was done so as not to prejudice the allocation of land among the tribes.

The Torah specifies that the construction of this great Temple must be postponed until the Jewish people have a king and their foreign affairs are secure. David felt that this great time was at hand.

Together with Shmuel (Samuel) the Prophet, David determined that the secret site is within a Yevusite region. David conquered the area and it becomes called Jerusalem.

A prophet later identified the exact location for the Temple and David purchased the Temple Mount on behalf of the entire Jewish nation.

David sought to build the House of G-d but he was stopped by Nathan the Prophet.

One of the reasons that David was not permitted to build the Temple was due to his close relationship with G-d. Had David built the First Temple, it would not have been able to be destroyed. G-d foresaw that the Jewish people will falter at a later time in history. G-d seeks to minimize the loss of life and He will need some way of venting the Divine wrath. The construction was therefore deferred to King Shlomo (Solomon) so that the Temple can be later destroyed. The wrath can thus be vented at the stones of G-d’s Temple, not against His children.

Solomon succeeds David at age twelve. He builds the First Temple on Mount Moriah, Jerusalem.

Of his many innovations for the Temple, Shlomo installs two special entrances. One is for young men who were recently married so that they could be recognized and thereby blessed by the people. The other entrance is for mourners so that they could be recognized and thereby consoled by the people. This entrance is also used by those who were banished from their communities because of bad conduct. By using this entrance, they open themselves to being socially corrected.

Shlomo is known for his great wisdom. He prayed to G-d and fasted forty days for this great gift.

The following story is recorded in the Bible (Kings I:3).

Two women appear in Shlomo’s court with a baby. They live alone in a shared apartment and they gave birth at the same time. One of the children died and both women claim that the live baby is theirs.

Shlomo calls for a sword and is poised to split the live baby into two. One woman is indifferent to the judgment. The other woman yields her claim so that the baby will not be killed. Shlomo gives her the baby.

A monarch without Shlomo’s wisdom would not have taken this approach because it risked the baby’s welfare, not to mention his own reputation. This case represents the depth of Shlomo’s wisdom. From the way the women presented their case he was able to detect with certainty who was right and that his approach would work.

Shlomo gained the reputation as a judge that you couldn’t fool or tell a lie.

The Oral Torah provides us with another story.

Three merchants camped overnight in a field and they hid their money together. One of them got up in the middle of the night and stole the money. They appear before Shlomo and accuse each other of the theft.

Before passing judgment, Shlomo asks them for help on a riddle that the King of Rome sent him.

A young girl made a vow to a boy that she would not marry anyone else without his permission. They grew up and went separate ways. She became engaged to someone else and then remembered her vow. She felt compelled to break the engagement.

Her fiancee supported her decision but proposed that they try to find the boy and obtain his permission. She readily agreed and the fiancee took along a huge sum of money in case the boy needed to be appeased.

They found him. Now a young man, he consented to the marriage. He wished them well and he refused to accept any money.

On their way back, they were attacked and held up by an old robber. He fell in love with the young girl and sought to kill the fiancee. She pleaded for his life and offered her engagement ring to the bandit. She told him the story of the vow and the release that her youthful sweetheart gave so that they can be married. If this young man could forgo his rights to her future, surely this old man can let them continue on their way to be married.

The robber was moved by the story. He returned their money and he let them off.

Now, who is the hero of the story?

One merchant voted for the girl. Another voted for the fiancee. The third voted for the bandit.

Shlomo listened carefully to their reasons and the way they presented them. He then ordered his police to extract a confession from the merchant who voted for the bandit. He confessed to taking the money.

Shlomo conceives of an ingenious plan to spread spirituality and Judaic values throughout the world. He uses his talents to earn the admiration and respect of the great foreign leaders of his generation. He marries their daughters to draw them into his sphere of influence.

Shlomo amasses great wealth, a huge stable of horses, he marries seven-hundred women and he has three-hundred concubines.

However, the Torah prohibits a king from marrying too many wives, from amassing too much wealth, and from acquiring too many horses (Deuteronomy 17).

Shlomo decides that these guidelines do not apply to his situation because of his good intentions and his reliance on his high spiritual knowledge.

Shlomo is unfortunately wrong. No person, even the wisest of all men,can achieve a full understanding of the rationale behind the Torah’s guidelines. Therefore, behavior that deviates from the Torah can not be sanctioned.

Shlomo incurs Divine wrath because of this and his dynasty will loose most of its political power (Kings I 11).

The Torah’s guidelines are meant for every generation. Even with the purest of intentions, we are not free to deviate from the behavior that the Torah prescribes.

Like his father, Shlomo reigns forty years. His reign and the Temple experiences bring the Jewish people to a near Messianic experience. They enjoy peace, prosperity, and the respect of Mankind. This brief high point provides Mankind with the greatest and most visible demonstration of the possibility to achieve harmony and happiness in this world by living in the manner prescribed by G-d.

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Illustration: Cherubim

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