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A close reading of the Hebrew indicates that this verse is merely recording the of foreign wives and concubinesnot the total of his women, which means that he had many more wives than this. The focus of the passage is on the women who worshiped gods other than YHWH and Solomon's building of high places and altars to those gods, which begs the question, what happened to Solomon?
King Solomon with three of his wives by Giovanni Venanzi di Pesaro. Oil on canvas, Source: Dorotheum, via Wikimedia Commons.
The hundreds of women said to have married King Solomon or reside in his harem described in the Book of Kings included the daughter of Pharaoh and women of Moabite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite origins. Solomon, third king of Israel reigned c. His wives were to have included the daughter of Pharaohas well as women of Moabite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite origins 1 Kgs ; The latter group is usually understood to represent wives who were added to the harem as a means of sealing treaty agreements with these five foreign powers.
Throughout human history, marriage alliance has been the most common way for rulers to attempt to secure peaceful relationships with potential enemies. It seems to illustrate the prohibition in Deut against marrying foreign women and also to echo the exclusion of Moab and Edom from the congregation of the Lord in Deut —9.
Naamah’s story: the basic facts
Foreign women were considered a potential source of trouble because they might not always adopt the culture and values of their husbands and their new place of residence. If they chose to continue to practice their native customs and cults, they would pass these on to their children and might also influence their husbands to adopt some non-Israelite practices as well. Loyalty to and identity with Israelite tradition would be threatened. In biblical literature, foreign women, seduction, prostitution, sexual disloyalty, and fertility cults were often linked together, yet not all foreign women were viewed as evil.
Tamar Genesis 38Ruth Book of RuthRahab Joshua 2and Jael Judges 4—5 provide positive images of foreign women; each demonstrates through her behavior her adoption of Israelite or Judahite society and religion and gains acceptance in her new community. Brenner, Athalya.
Sheffield, England: Miller, J. Maxwell, and John H. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Philadelphia: Reinhartz, Adele.
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Edelman, Diana. Jewish Women's Archive. Learn more.
Women of Solomon: Bible by Diana Edelman. In Brief. Meyers, Carol, General Editor. Women in Scripture.
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