Hebrew name: Shlomo - peace and prosperity
The greatest king Israel ever had, King Solomon has grown out even of his Biblical proportions and become a man of legend. How much is true and how much is not is up for each one to decide - the Bible gives us a complete life story, but no archeological remains have been found of the great king.
According to the scriptures, then, the son of King David and Bathsheba ruled Israel from about 960 to 922 BC. His reign became the golden age of the kingdom. In this time there were no wars, only growth and prosperity. In Jerusalem, Solomon constructed a great temple along with many public houses and palaces. Along the borders he built fortified cities such as Gezer, Megiddo and Hazor. Within the country trade caravans passed, ever adding to the wealth.
The king was said to be the wisest of all men. For "...God gave Solomon Wisdom and Understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore." (1 Kings 4:29) He is said to have written both the Proverbs, the book of Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs.
The two most famous manifestations of Solomon's wisdom are found in the story of two mothers and a baby, and that of the Queen of Sheba. In the first, the king was asked to judge between two women who both claimed to be the mother of a child. He offered to cut it in two so that each could have half of it. One woman agreed with his ruling, but the true mother would rather give her child to the other than kill it.
The Queen of Sheba was a foreign royal who came to see Solomon's wealth with her own eyes, and to test his wisdom, she asked him three riddles. He answered them all perfectly, and the queen was so charmed by this that she eventually bore his son. This son was said to be the ancestor of the emperors of Ethiopia.
King Solomon was fond of women. He had hundreds of wives and concubines, some taken as peace treaties, others for pleasure. This is said to have contributed to his country's downfall. The king allowed his women to keep practising their foreign religions, sometimes even joining them, and for this, God tore the kingdom asunder soon after his death.
But the king's memory lived on in legends. The mention of his name brings thoughts of wisdom and splendour. The most popular name for grand hotels in Israel, it seems, is King Solomon, or a derivation thereof. Better still are the King Solomon's casinos. There is even a King Solomon Cave on Tasmania, which could explain why no trace of his wealth has ever been found.