How Much Do You Know About the Life of King Solomon?

Zoe Samuel

Image: Christian Schussele

About This Quiz

Solomon is one of the most significant figures in the Old Testament. The son of King David, he ruled over the kingdom of Israel for many decades and was blessed by the Lord with great wisdom. He was very powerful, largely thanks to intelligent trade policy which included an alliance with Hiram I, king of Phoenicia.  He forged an alliance with Egypt too, which was cemented by marriage and enabled his kingdom to benefit from both ends of the Fertile Crescent - that is, the cradle of civilization formed by the three great Middle Eastern and North African rivers of the Tigris, Nile and Euphrates. Israel was bang on the arch of the crescent and a wise king could make a great deal out of this. All sorts of goods went through the kingdom of Israel during Solomon's reign, from corn to precious stones to textiles to all manner of things.

Some Biblical figures are somewhat mythical, but Solomon is definitely a real person, as solid records of his reign exist. It's quite likely there has been some embellishment and some conflation of different tales as these are events from 3,000 years ago. but broadly speaking it is possible to be pretty well-informed about the hard facts of his reign as well as the more flowery accounts. Let's see how you do!

Who was Solomon's father?

Solomon was the most loved son of David by his favorite wife.

What was Solomon noted for writing?

Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, a beautiful collection of wisdom.

How many wives did Solomon have?

Solomon had a lot of wives, since that was the thing to be done if you had a lot of money. He clearly had a couple of favorites, though, who he loved the most.

Who was Solomon's mother?

Solomon's mother was David's most beloved wife, Bathsheba, who left her previous husband for David.

Which queen did Solomon meet?

The Queen of Sheba heard about Solomon and decided to visit and meet him. They traded presents and according to some accounts, had a love affair that resulted in a baby.

Where was the Biblical kingdom of Sheba?

Ethiopia and/or Yemen are the likely sites of the kingdom of Sheba, which was a really powerful country, with a very favorable trading position.

What was the United Monarchy?

The United Monarchy was the period when Israel had a king and was not a divided land, under the rulers Saul, David and Solomon.

Who was Solomon's heir?

Rehoboam was Solomon's heir, although he wasn't quite the man his father was!

What is Solomon credited with building?

The first Temple was a very important construction and lasted for centuries. Solomon designed it and built it.

Of what sin was Solomon guilty?

Since God blessed Solomon with wealth, he can't be blamed for greed - he just got rich! He also had lots of wives so technically that wasn't adultery, and he worked hard. He did get into some idolatry, though, which was bad for the kingdom and resulted in punishment from God.

When did Solomon's reign start?

Solomon is a real historical figure and there are solid accounts of the dates. They're not always totally precise, but they're not a million miles off.

By what name is Solomon known in the Koran?

It's the Arabic name for Solomon!

How does the Talmud characterize Solomon?

The Talmud is a collection of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara. Solomon is represented in it as a prophet.

What was the name of the magic ring Solomon used to control demons?

This is the origin of the story about how genies are trapped in bottles! It's not in the Bible, but it is one of the stories told about Solomon.

According to the Kabbalah, which angels did Solomon compel to tell him all about various mysteries?

Kabbalah is a tradition of Biblical interpretation that peaked in the Middle Ages. In some writings, Solomon is described as compelling two angels to tell him all the secrets of the world.

Where was Solomon born?

Solomon was the son of the king, so he was born at the capital of Jerusalem.

Which book from the Apocrypha did Solomon probably write?

The Apocrypha are non-canonical books that are deemed part of the Bible in certain faith traditions.

Solomon wrote several of the Biblical books. Which of the below did he NOT write?

Solomon was a very prolific Biblical writer but he did not write the Book of Kings, even though he is one of the most important characters in it.

How long did Solomon reign?

This was a very long time especially considering he didn't become king until he was about 40.

Which heir of David was passed over in favor of Solomon?

Technically, lots of people were passed over for Solomon, as he was not the eldest son by any stretch. However, Adonijah was the Crown Prince, meaning the first son to the first wife.

With which Phoenician king did Solomon trade the most?

Hiram and Solomon's father were good friends, and this kept up during Solomon's reign. The alliance was very good for both nations.

Which is the most famous story about the wisdom of Solomon?

Two women claimed to be mother of the same baby. Solomon said they should cut it in half to share it. One woman renounced her claim, which he knew meant she was the mother as she was willing to give up the baby rather than harm it.

How did Solomon get an alliance with Egypt?

Marriage has always been the best way to make an alliance and Solomon did love his marriages!

What is the name of the book that is falsely attributed to Solomon?

The Testament of Solomon is from hundreds of years after his death but was falsely attributed to him for some time.

In which famous collection of stories did Solomon imprison a genie in a bottle?

Solomon is in an awful lot of stories, and made it into Arab literature as a figure with all sorts of magical abilities.

What happened to the kingdom of Solomon after his death?

Solomon was a powerful and wise ruler but his heir, Rehoboam, was not. This resulted in the splitting of the kingdom and a great loss of wealth and territory.

Which city, still in existence today, was founded by Solomon as part of an aggressive military expansion?

Solomon founded Megiddo, which the Bible says is the site of the end of the world. They might have been off when it comes to the timing, though, as Megiddo and the world are still with us!

To which of the twelve tribes of Israel did Solomon belong?

This is why when the kingdom later divided, half of it was called Judah.

Other than the book of Kings, which is the main Biblical account of Solomon's reign?

The second book of Chronicles contains the tales of 21 rulers of Israel. About a quarter of the book is about Solomon.

Which prophet worked with Bathsheba to ensure that Solomon, not his brothers, would be named king?

Nathan was a lifelong family friend and advocate for Solomon.

What name did Nathan the prophet give to the infant Solomon?

It means "friend of God," so it was a lovely name to give to a baby!

How long did Solomon live?

Solomon lived 80 years and was king for half his life.

According to the first book of Kings, how many horses did Solomon have?

This is probably an exaggeration, but remnants of many hundreds of stables have been found dating to Solomon's reign at the site of his palace.

After the kingdom was divided, who was the first king of Israel?

Solomon didn't set things up very well for the next generation and the kingdom divided. Fortunately, Jeroboam was a good ruler.

In what part of Jerusalem was Solomon buried?

This part of the city is important as it contains the main water supply.

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