The Wisest of Them All

Around 970 BC, a young boy, only fifteen years of age, took his seat on the throne of the promised land. Despite being younger than his brothers, he was appointed as king over Israel due to a covenant previously made between his father and God. He was an offering; a symbol of atonement if you will. A token of peace after his father’s lustful nature brought discord between he and the Lord. But soon the young boy would grow into arguably the greatest king to ever rule over God’s chosen people.

He did many wonderful things for the nation of Israel. It was by his hand that the first temple was constructed. Under his reign, Israel became exceedingly wealthier then they had ever been. But none of this is what we think of when we think of the heir to David’s throne. What we think of first and formost is wisdom. Wisdom that far exceeded what is considered normal. Wisdom given directly by God upon the king’s request. 

After receiving such a gift he would go on to write the book of Proverbs, a few of the Psalms, as well as Ecclesiastes and a self titled book of poetry about his romantic pursuits. Yes, King Solomon is one of the most influential biblical characters you will come across, and my personal favorite. But wisdom comes at a price, a very high price. And that cost is the price of knowing because sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

Who was Solomon? Was he a wise king or an ancient myth? Could he really control spirits?

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So how did an ordinary man end up becoming known as one of the wisest men in all of history? Well,  it all started in a city called Gibeon. Not long after Solomon had began his rule, he traveled to Gibeon to sacrifice to the Lord. Gibeon was known as “The Great High Place”. I often picture a tall hill, maybe symbolic for getting closer to God. 

The bible states that Solomon made 1,000 sacrifices to Jehovah and one night during his stay there, the Lord visited him in a dream. God told Solomon that He was pleased with his sacrifice and that He would grant the king one desire of his heart. It is said that Solomon asked for the discernment of good and evil so he might rule God’s chosen people righteously and this, in turn, pleased God even greater. 

Because of Solomon’s selfless wish, Jehovah said that he would not only be the wisest king who would ever live, but he would also be blessed with riches and honor beyond all one could imagine. I guess God kept His promise because here we are, still talking about him thousands of years later. Solomon’s teachings are still handed out even to this day. Think about it. How many times have you heard the phrase “as a fool returns to his folly”? There is something about Solomon’s words that cary so much authority and yet create an atmosphere of understanding. 

But after all of that, after all of the blessings and wisdom, that still was not enough to keep Solomon from turning away from God in pursuit of something more… fresh and exciting. And after some time and a few select wives, that is exactly what happened. 

I find it interesting that Solomon was gifted the very thing that is said to have brought forth sin in the first place. Discerning of good and evil was quite literally the very thing that Genesis states led man to sin. Humanity has hunger for knowledge and as we have all heard: knowledge is power. But there is one other truth about the power of understanding and that is, knowing is never enough. 

There are an infinite number of things to dive into in this world. Untold facets of creation to explore. And even more are there corners of the mind. Solomon dedicated his life to acquiring as much information on as many things as he could to lead his people but the lust for understanding can lead down a dark and twisted path. Soon, Solomon found himself building temples to strange gods, involved in idolatrous practices, and constantly trying to keep all of it in balance. One religion is hard enough to maintain. I couldn’t imagine having to keep up with multiple. But that is exactly where he found himself. 

Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord and God grew angry with him. It is said the the Lord spoke to Solomon and told him that because of his wickedness, his kingdom would be torn in two upon his death. Soon the Lord raised an adversary against him and what was once a peaceful reign became a time of war and chaos. After 40 years or reigning in Israel, Solomon passed away and the kingdom did indeed split just as the Lord decreed. Due to Solomons pagan practices, there’s a few extra accounts of the wise king that are worth looking into. While most historians and Scholars both agree that the Jewish account is likely the most complete account, I dare not leave a stone unturned. And while many of these stories we are about to look into are quite far fetched, I find them to be extremely intriguing so if you’re ready, let’s push forward because things are about to speed up quite dramatically. 

Solomon is a key figure in demonic witchcraft. See, I told you things were about to get crazy. It is said that when Solomon received his vision from the Lord, God not only granted him wisdom, He also gave the king a ring. But this ring was not just any old piece of jewelry. No, it is said that this ring bearing a sacred symbol similar to that of a pentagram or star of David, could control demonic spirits. If you listened to our previous episode you might remember that demons are often viewed as elementals that can bring about certain events for those who command them and that they are actually used by both good and evil. So this is not saying Solomon was a demon worshiper, rather that he was given authority over the spiritual and physical. 

There are even claims that a mist flowed through Solomon’s court that bridged the gap between the spiritual and physical. According to these accounts, spirits would bring gifts from across the globe and lay them at the wise king’s feet. It is even said that animals would come of their own accord and offer themselves in the king’s kitchens to be prepared as a meal. While this all sounds a bit fabled and presumptuous, it’s not far off from the traditional understandings of demonology when you get into the meat of it. 

It is often said that the master of an elemental could contour up a spirit to go forth and fetch rare items or cause other creatures to behave according to one’s wishes. And while I am not one to decree Solomon had the ability to command animals, the rare items part makes some sense if you study just how much wealth the king acquired. The Bible doesn’t go into a ton of detail about how he came to be so wealthy other than saying it was a blessing of God, so who am I to judge? Many of these accounts are noted in a work known as “The Lesser Keys of Solomon”.

The Lesser Keys of Solomon is one of the most famous Grimoires, that is, spell books, in existence. Though, not written by Solomon himself, The Lesser Keys are inspired by pagan tales most likely passed down through traditions established in the temples built for the gods worshiped by Solomon’s many wives. 

The last 4 sections of the Lesser Keys cover everything one would need to build an alter to summon angels, understand elemental spirits and their dualistic nature of both good and evil, Solomon’s communications with Jehovah, and it even talks of the magic performed by the apostle Paul given to him in Corinth. (Yea, that’s a whole other conversation). But the most famous section, and seemingly the most interesting section is the first, the Goetia, 

The Goetia is a compilation of 72 different demonic entities that ancient pagan folklore claims Solomon captured and controlled in his reign. Each of these 72 unique entities are named, given a signet, assigned a cardinal direction, and instructions for their invocation. 

One of the most interesting stories mentioned is also a tale passed down from classical Rabbis. It is said that one day Solomon encountered a demon claiming to be the king of all demons. He called himself Asmodeus. He had three heads and the tail of a serpent. Solomon seized control of him and forced him into laboring in the building of the temple. It was during this time that the demon prophesied the splitting of Israel due to Solomon’s lack of faithfulness to Jehovah. But that is not the only run in with Asmodeus Solomon faced. 

One day, Solomon became curious about the nature of demons and what could grant a demon power over a human. Asmodeus, a cunning creature, convinced Solomon to release him and give him the ring so that he could show Solomon the revelation of his mysteries. Upon freeing the demon, Asmodeus cast the ring into the sea and it was swallowed by a fish. When I first heard this, I found myself wondering what Solomon expected from a deceiving spirit but then again, curiosity while being famous for its destructive nature towards felines, has never been that forgiving to humans either. 

Asmodeus then took the form of Solomon and seized control over the kingdom forcing the once powerful man of wisdom to wonder from town to town, working as a peasant to survive. After weeks of wandering the streets, Solomon found his way into an Ammonite city where he was forced to work in the king’s kitchens. One evening, he was given the chance to prepare a meal for the king himself. The food was so good the Ammonite king murdered his old cook and gave the position to Solomon. I guess you could say the previous chef ended up on the chopping block. 

Solomon, being a ladies man, swooned the heart of the Ammonite king’s daughter and the fell in love. But the king disproved of her relationship with a servant not knowing Solomons royal lineage. The Ammonite king drove them both into the desert where they wandered until they found a small, costal city. Hungry, they scraped what money they had together and purchased a fish to eat but as they sank their teeth into the fish, Solomon bit down on something hard and metallic. When he spit it out into his hand he noticed a symbol that was all too familiar. It was his ring given to him by God. Solomon returned to his palace and regained control over the Demon leader, Asmodeus and took back his throne.

Another one of my favorites can be found in the islamic folk tale, One Thousand and One Nights. One of the demons, or in this case, an elemental spirit called a genie, displeased Solomon so much, that in his anger he locked the genie in a bottle, sealed it with the signet of his ring, and cast him into the ocean to drift indefinitely. Centuries later a fishing vessel caught the bottle in their nets and unknowingly freed the elemental who told them his lofty past. 

Solomon holds a mighty influence on every Abrahamic religion and many pagan traditions. His name caries authority in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, paganism, and even in satanism. Many ancient symbols including the pentagram can be traced back to or at least attributed to his works and his teachings still influence our laws and understanding of social justice to this day. But as you already know, time has a way of murking the clear waters of truth. And to many scholars, Solomon’s history is about as clear as a mighty river after a hard rain.

Many scholars debate if Solomon ever actually existed at all. Due to the desolation brought by the Babylonians and the rebuilding and destruction that has happened so many times, it makes it extremely difficult to find any hard proof. Many claim that the lack of evidence outside of the biblical account does not add much validity to Solomon’s existence. The time of his reign has been labeled by some as a “dark age” for proof. Many of these scholars believe Solomon is a completely made up account. Just folk tales passed down from generation to generation. 

But then there are others who argue that the biblical account is, in essence, correct. In 2013, archeologists in Phoenicia uncovered silver-hoards that could be tied back to king Hiram of tyre, the biblical origin for some of king Solomon’s wealth as stated in Isaiah 23. Plus, the Bible is at least in part, a historical text. What would be the purpose of making up a character that was in direct lineage of David. David was a well documented king in Israel’s history so why would Solomon just be made up?

But no matter if he was real or fictional that does not change the influence the teachings coined in his name have left on us. From integrity, righteousness, and compassion, to work ethic, fairness, and managing our daily lives, Solomon’s words echo through not just the churches, but our governments, schools, and homes. His words show us how to rise above our circumstances and most importantly as stated in Ecclesiastes, how to not take ourselves too seriously. 

I feel the best way to end this is to close with one of the most beautifully melancholic passages in the entire Bible, Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break, and a time to build;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away, and a time to gather;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to be silent, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate;a time for war, and a time for peace.

Solomon’s words are as timeless as history itself. 

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