King Solomon, son of David, leader of the Israelites, is without a doubt one of the most fully-rad to the max rulers in all of Biblical history, and if you can’t wrap your head around that just yet then it’s time for me to drop some seriously hardcore shit on you like a B-29 Superfortress carpet-bombing baby grand pianos keys-first into the lame community garden where your annoying neighbors are always trying to grow organic vegetable bullshit that you can readily buy at any grocery store in America for like ninety-nine cents. An ultra mega-hero to the Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, Solomon was super-pimp Boss Hogg old man who banged literally a thousand wives and concubines (including the daughter of an Egyptian Pharaoh), wrote half the Bible, built the holiest place in Jewish history, ruled over the largest kingdom the Israelites would ever construct for more than 40 years, and spent a bizarre majority of his spare time apparently flying around the heavens on a robotic gold-encrusted Lion Throne while wearing a ring that commanded MOTHERFUCKING GENIES to do his bidding BECAUSE HE WAS JUST INSANELY RAD LIKE THAT.
Shit, dude, he also tried to chop a baby in half once, and he was an indirect inspiration for the ultra-awesomebad movie Congo where Bruce Campbell and Tim Curry get eaten to death by sentient monkeys that can only be killed by turning a GPS satellite transceiver into a monkey-incinerating laser and then blowing up an entire city by willingly triggering a volcanic eruption. And if you can’t find it in your cold miserable heart to get down with that it’s time to GET ON MY LEVEL.
There isn’t a ton of archaeological evidence supporting any of the Bible’s claims about King Solomon, but who fucking cares. He was born around 1,000 BC to the similarly-awesome Israelite King David, and Solomon was so wise and capable that even though he was like the fifth son of David he’s the kid that got tapped to succeed dad as the future King of Israel. Well, apparently Solomon’s older brother Adonijah wasn’t down with that, because once David got sick and started laying around in bed dying all day, Adonijah put on a crown and started telling everyone he was the king so just get used to that idea. David was like, “nope, sorry, fuck that, dude,” had Solomon anointed in water, and then Solomon grabbed a big-ass sword and, boom, two seconds later Adonijah was prostrating himself on the Ark of the Covenant begging his bro not to decapitate him. Solomon was like, ok bro, you can go, and then Adonijah went home and Solomon was like PSYCH and sent a dude to brain him with a sword until he died from it.
Solomon’s early days were spent consolidating his power, mostly by killing pretty much anyone who could potentially want to think about fucking with him, but also by killing people that his dad wanted him to as well. Which is an awesome story, by the way – I guess King David had been screwed over a couple of times by his own men, but he’d said to them something like, “I should totally kill you for what you just did, but you were a good man and I swear to you I will not kill you while I am king.” And he didn’t. And I guess those guys forgot about it or something.
Well, guess what, buddy – badasses always live for revenge. So, on his death bed, David’s last words to his son were to list off all the people he promised not to kill, and to ask Solomon to have them all killed after David was finally dead. So that’s what he did.
Solomon sent a guy named Benaiah to carry out the assassinations.
Benaiah was the top general of the Israelite army under King David,
a 20+ year military veteran, and he once killed a lion with his bare hands.
One day Solomon set 1,000 animals on fire as burnt offerings to God, so when he went to sleep Yahweh came to him in a dream and was like, “ok, new King, if you could have one wish what would it be?” Solomon thought, and instead of money or girls or annihilation of his enemies he said he wanted ultimate wisdom. God was down with this, “opened the 49 Gates of Wisdom to Solomon,” then said he’d throw in gold, girls, and bloody vengeance as freebies anyways. Solomon became immediately known for being basically the wisest and most Lawful Neutral just ruler ever. He built cities, extended the walls of Jerusalem, planted gardens, managed a massive empire stretching from the Euphrates River to Egypt, and set up a trade network throughout the Middle East that imported things like cedar wood, gold, diamonds, copper, spices and apes (?!) and brought in exactly 666 (!!) talents of gold to his coffers his year, which is a number that works out to about 43 tons of pure gold. That’s the weight of a New York City subway car, and he brought it in every year, like goddamn clockwork. He also somehow found time to write 3,000 proverbs, 1,000 songs, two Psalms, and author the Old Testament Bible books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. Which ain’t bad.
Solomon’s most famous act of wisdom came one day when these two women showed up at his court complaining about which woman was the real mother of some baby they had with them. I guess one of the moms accidentally killed her baby by rolling over on it in her sleep, so she swapped it out with her next-door neighbor’s baby and took the alive baby as her own. Well, back in the days before shit like Maury Povich paternity testing, the best way to figure this kind of thing out was to take the mystery kid to the King and let him decide who be the baby-mama. Solomon listened to these women arguing for like two seconds and was like “fuck this” and ordered his guard to pull a sword, chop the baby in half, and give one chunk of baby to each mom. One lady was like “yeah, pop that sucker open,” and the other was like “woah I’m not going to be cool with that, she can just have the baby,” so King Solomon gave the baby to the lady who wasn’t a complete douchebag advocating the murder of an infant. Even if she wasn’t the real baby-mama, holy crap it’s not like you could let the kid leave with the lady who was cool with baby-murder, right?
King Solomon built tons of cool shit, but his most significant project was the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem – the single holiest site in the history of Judaism. Using an army of slave-labor foreigners, local stonemasons, and (depending on who you ask) magical genies, Solomon spent 7 years building a big elaborate stone temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. The place was completely plastered in gold and jewels, and at the dedication ceremony Solomon gave such an awesome pump-up speech that a column of flame came down from the sky and set a bunch of cattle on fire (Solomon was so jacked up by this that he personally sacrificed a thousand sheep on the spot). The temple stood as the home of the Ark until 587 BC, when Nebudchanezzar II of the Babylonians smashed it. The Jews rebuilt it, the Romans smashed it again, and the Jews never rebuilt it, because, as we all know, the Ark is now in that warehouse at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie.
Solomon also spent 13 years using slave labor to build himself a fully-rad and super insanely awesome palace out of cedarwood, stone, gold, and jewels, and his personal ivory-and-gold throne was decorated with solid-gold sculptures of twelve pissed-off-looking lions that allegedly operated on a mechanical system that Transformered around him when he sat on the throne and surrounded him like Iron Man’s armor. Legend has it that Nebudchanezzar crippled himself trying to sit on the throne, because he didn’t know how that steampunk shit worked and he got his ACL clipped by a golden robot lion head. Which is awesome.
Solomon cemented most of his alliances with marriage, and by marriage I mean he hooked up with every single princess on earth whenever possible. The dude apparently had 700 wives, women from all different parts of the Middle East and North Africa, and when he got bored of humping enough women to fill a 747 airliner to maximum capacity, he also had 300 concubines on the site that he could call at a moment’s notice. His main wife was the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh, but assuming he spent every night with a different girl he probably only hung out with her once every 2.74 years. He was nice enough to build some temples and shrines to the gods of the foreign women he was married to, but this of course totally pissed off his subjects and the Israelites accused him of not being devout enough to Yahweh and forsaking their god (the Muslims don’t really feel this way about him).
Solomon’s most celebrated female relationship was with The Queen of Sheba, a super insanely-rich African kingdom in present-day Ethiopia/Eritrea. Apparently the Queen heard that Solomon was a really wise guy, so she went to Jerusalem with a huge caravan of goods and spices and stated asking him a bunch of really hard riddles Alec Trebek style. The Bible doesn’t specifically say they hooked up (the phrase they use is that he “gave the Queen of Sheba her every desire, even more than she had brought for him”, which admittedly does have sort of a “that’s what she said” vibe to it), but the Ethiopian religion of Rastafari claims that they got it on and every Emperor of Ethiopia from the days of Solomon to current Crown Prince Zera Yacob Amha Selassie is descended from Solomon himself. Of course, there’s a lot more to Rastafari than that, but most people outside Africa don’t really seem to have a problem with boiling 2,900 years of African culture down into a blacklight poster of Bob Marley smoking reefer, so, hey, if you wanna think of King Solomon as the Prophet of Bong Hits 420 I guess have fun with that.
Well if any of that shit sounded weird, you should know that we’re just getting started here, because once you start talking about Islamic, Kabbalah, and Medieval occult literature Solomon gets even more awesome. According to those sources, he can control the wind, speak to animals, and commands an army of genies and devils who obey his every whim without hesitation. His morning jog is a month’s journey for most men, and he flies through the Heavens on a throne of light that’s pulled by two golden eagles so he can asked chained-up Fallen Angels to answer his questions about the universe. The animals of the earth serve him and dance for him, and they’re so crazy for King Solomon that they would literally run into a kitchen and jump head-first into a pot to boil themselves alive so Solomon could eat them, which is like the Old Testament version of McDonald’s. He eats dinner at a table of pure iron, which is like kryptonite to genies apparently, and he wears a special magical Genie-controlling ring called the Seal of Solomon that was given to him personally by none other than Saint Michael the Archangel.
The Seal is a copper and iron magic ring engraved with a badass pentagram and set with a diamond, and in Islamic and Jewish mysticism Solomon used it to brand the necks of Jinn and Devils control them to do his bidding. He apparently had absolutely no fear of them, and would constantly threaten these big towering demons with “The Penalty of Blazing Fire,” which sounds awesome even if I don’t fully understand what the hell that means. I do know that in the Muslim apocalypse, The Beast of the Earth (a horrible Godzilla-like super-Devil destined to destroy the world), comes to the surface of the world wearing the Seal of Solomon on its right middle finger, and when it punches non-believers in the face the words “Destined For Hell” appear written on the doomed person’s forehead, which honestly is the MOST FUCKING METAL THING EVER and I think there are like six Judas Priest album titles in that last sentence alone.
Solomon is also attributed as the writer to pretty much every weird Grimoire Necronomicron book from the Middle Ages, and the Key of Solomon was a bizarre text that talked about demons and witchcraft and all this other stuff that makes you want to go out into the forest with a sacrifice-worthy goat and start playing second-edition Dungeons & Dragons with your co-workers at the movie theater. The Freemasons, who rule the world and run the Illuminadi, also look toe Solomon as a founding inspiration, and the secret, undiscovered underground African copper mines where he kept his treasure are the basis for the badass 1880s novel King Solomon’s Mines starring notable awesome literary dude Allan Quatermain. King Solomon’s Mines were the inspiration for Michael Crichton to write Congo exactly 100 years later, and it was also allegedly the inspiration for a weird NES game that doesn’t really have anything to do with King Solomon, mines, keys, or the book King Solomon’s Mines. Or laser-monkeys either, come to think of it.
Ok, well I guess it’s possible that the real-life historical King Solomon of the Israelites didn’t control Jinn with a magic ring, answer riddles from African queens, and fly through the Heavens on a robotic Voltron-style Lion Sled, and it’s also quite possible that his empire was actually quite a bit smaller than the Bible originally lets on, but the fact remains that King Solomon kicks ass. This is a guy who is known to all three Abrahamic traditions as the ultimate religious king, an inspiration for competent leadership and unbiased justice, and he was able to run a successful kingdom with a thriving economy and hold it together firmly at a time of crazy anarchy and an age when the Ancient Greeks were still living in huts made out of animal hides and clubbing each other with rocks. While he was able to hold his people together for 40 years as King until his death around 922 BC at age 80, his sons didn’t have his managerial prowess and the Kingdom eventually split into two separate parts, which were then curbstomped by Nebuchadnezzar in the 5th century BC.
According to some stories, the only plant to grow overtop of King Solomon’s burial site was….. cannabis.