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How Many Wives Did King Solomon Have?

As influential as the King of Israel is, hundreds of women had their eyes on the king. Many have believed that hundreds of women have actually married King Solomon. But how many wives did he really have?

According to 1 Kings book, King Solomon has had a harem that includes 700 wives and 300 concubines. His wives were to have included the daughter of Pharaoh and the women of Moabite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite origins. 

Why Did King Solomon Have Several Wives?

King Solomon was crowned as the third king of Israel. He reigned from 968 – to 928 B.C.E. Besides his adoring wisdom and power, he also used his marriages to seal treaty agreements with these five foreign powers. Throughout history, marriage alliance has been the most common way for rulers to attempt to secure peaceful relationships with potential enemies. And Solomon has been wise enough to use his power to ensure a peaceful reign in his kingdom. 

Although, according to the book of Deuteronomy 7:3, marrying a woman was prohibited and also echoes the exclusion of Moab and Edom from the congregation of the Lord in Deuteronomy 23:4-9. 

But because of a belief that foreign women were viewed as a potential source of issues, they might have problems adapting to the culture and values of their husbands and their new place of residence. If they decided to continue practicing their customs and cult, they would influence these in their children and might sway their husbands to embrace some non-Israelite practices. Their loyalty and identity with Israelite tradition would be endangered. (Source: Jewish Women’s Archives)

The Views on Foreign Women

Foreign women, in biblical literature, were always associated with seduction, prostitution, sexual disloyalty, and fertility cults, yet not all foreign women were viewed as evil. Tamar, faithful and obedient to the promise of the Lord (Genesis 38); Ruth, a widowed woman who has been faithful to her mother-in-law (Book of Ruth); Rahab, a prostitute who helped the Israelites’ spy to escape from Jericho (Joshua 2); and Jael, courageous and faithful to the Lord (Judges 4-5); these women provide a constructive view of foreign women, each demonstrates through he behavior her adoption of Israelite of Judahite society, religious beliefs, and practices, and gains acceptance in her new community. 

Solomon’s foreign wives, by contrast, portray the negative side of foreign women. Like Samson’s wife (Judges 14-16), Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39), and the foreign woman of Proverbs 1-9, they stay loyal to their own personal or political agenda and, as a result, disrupt law and order in their adoptive Israelite community. 

King Solomon, who has great riches in wisdom and all the world’s wealth, obedient and faithful king to the Lord, may still stumble and cause an excellent sin for his idolatry in marrying many women, which has caused his heart a significant burden that leads him to repentance.

Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon, king of Israel, sinned? Among the many nations, there is no king like him. His God loved him, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women.

Nehemiah 13:26, NIV

(Source: Jewish Women’s Archives)

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