We get to see a list of all the things Solomon built during his 20 year building spree. We also see a darker side of him, by today’s standards anyway.
When I started reading this section I had to do a little research. I looked up the term “Millo” and “Cabul.” I still don’t feel like I have a firm understanding of the Millo. Several places described it as a terraced stone wall that the Jebusites constructed as part of their wall. David breached this and then fortified it again during his life. But this Millo was one Solomon built. One site I found gives me the closest understanding I can find. It states that the word “Millo” translates to “fortress.” This would make sense to me considering the extravagance Solomon built with.
As for the word “Cabul” I laughed when I learned its meaning. According to Wikipedia, it means “what does not please.” That about sums up king Hiram’s feelings when he saw the cities Solomon gave him. I wonder what it was about the cities that he didn’t like. Were they small towns and he was expecting sprawling metropolitan cities? Were they lacking in scenery? Did they have poor industries? What was it that he didn’t like?
Another thing I looked into is how much gold Solomon received. My bible helps tells me that a talent is about 75 pounds/35 kilograms. This makes the gold Solomon received from king Hiram 9,000 pounds/4,200 kilograms. But that is not all the gold Solomon received. Solomon made a fleet of ships which king Hiram sent servants with Solomon’s fleet and brought back even more gold; 420 talents (31,500 pounds/10,500 kilograms)!!! I then looked up how many pounds of gold is in Fort Knox. There are 27.5 pounds of gold held there. I thought Fort Knox was the biggest gold depository in the world but I found out different. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is the largest. It holds 25% of the world’s gold; 5,620 metric tons. Solomon’s gold, while MUCH more than that in Fort Knox falls FAR short at 18.37 metric tons. Although that is still a LOT of gold, it makes me feel a little better about the numbers.
The last thing that really struck me in our reading was the “forced labor” mentioned. This section tears at my heart. Slavery has been around since the fall of man. There weren’t actual physical slaves at that point in time but Adam and Eve sold their souls into slavery to Satan. Man has been enslaving others since shortly thereafter. I wonder if it is because man feels powerless and wants someone under him to make him feel more powerful. It makes sense to me in a way.
Solomon chose everyone living in Israel that wasn’t an Israelite and made them slaves. “All the people who were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, who were not of the people of Israel– their descendants who were left after them in the land, whom the people of Israel were unable to devote to destruction– these Solomon drafted to be slaves, and so they are to this day” (verses 20-21).
On one hand you might say that they were ‘lucky to be alive’ because God told the people to kill everyone in the land. But I don’t see slavery as ‘lucky’ at all. I am GLAD Jesus freed me from my slavery to sin. I wish there wasn’t even a concept of slavery though. I honestly have no concept of true slavery because of the race of people I was born into. Nothing of my doing, just a simple fact. My heart goes out to those who have ever had to endure this ‘status’ or are still scarred by it in some way. I don’t know how to fix their pain. All I can do is ask God to help me not hurt my brothers and sisters in Christ AND in the rest of the world.
Even with what I see as sin, Solomon still honored the Lord. “Three times a year Solomon used to offer up burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar that he built to the Lord, making offerings with it before the Lord” (verse 25a). I wonder if these three times were the three times a year that the people were told to assemble before God. Was Solomon’s heart in these sacrifices by this time or was he going through the motions? We know that Solomon’s wives led him into idol worship during his reign. I wonder how long that took and did he still try and worship God along side these idols?
With all this though, God still gave Solomon great wisdom. God kept ALL His promises to Solomon, even when he wasn’t faithful to God. His love never ends.
Father God, my heart is breaking right now. I have grown up knowing that ALL people sin. I have also grown up knowing that ALL people are loved by You. I HATE slavery! I used to think of Solomon as a great king who had some serious faults but seeing that he enslaved ANYONE who wasn’t of his nation breaks my heart. I know times were different back then but… how could You let this happen? I’m sorry that this is not the normal question I would be asking after reading Your word. Instead of being inspired today I feel crushed, bruised and battered. Is this how You feel watching man’s inhumanity to man?
You COULD step in and stop ALL sin in its tracks but that would remove the free will You created us with. What You do instead is continue to reach out to each person and call them away from sin and into Your arms. Hold me Father as I cry for a while over the pain of this world. Love is KNOWING that I am going to disappoint You and still letting me make the mistakes anyway, AND welcoming me back after I have repented. Forgive me for ALL the hurts I have caused others and help me heal hurts that I see.