The acting, dialogue, scenery, and drama in the 1997 movie “Solomon” are excellent and enjoyable. However, the only way it matches what the Bible states is that despite the claim that Solomon was very wise, a close reading of the biblical text reveals that he did virtually everything wrong. Of course, few things were proper. Even a blind chicken can sometimes find a grain of corn. Watching Hollywood versions of biblical tales may cause some viewers to think the screenwriters were mocking people who believe God inspired the biblical writings. These writers show their “better” skills by inserting more drama and love entanglements. They successfully do this but fail to include the multiple nuances in the original that Bible commentators point to. These insights help us better ourselves, society, and all creation.

I will note some of the king’s foolishness, which I discuss in my book, “The Authentic King Solomon.”

  • The 1997 film describes Solomon’s marriage to the Queen of Sheba and the birth of their son. This dramatic event is not in the Bible; it is an Ethiopian myth. In the Bible, she visits Solomon because she hears he is very wise. However, all the two do together is discuss riddles.
  • Solomon is credited for discovering the true mother of a baby simply because one of the two disputing prostitutes agreed to give up the child when Solomon foolishly said he would slice the child in two and give each a half. Rational thinkers and legal experts recognize this was Solomon’s unintelligent decision. Her act proves nothing. She may not have been the mother, but she agreed to give up the child to the true mother simply because she did not want to carry her farce to the end, where the child was murdered.
  • Solomon intended to unite the twelve tribes into a strong united nation, yet immediately after his death, as recorded in Kings II, chapter 12, ten of the tribes broke from the monarchy of Solomon’s son and formed their country because they were dissatisfied with the way Solomon conducted his reign. Solomon imposed high taxes and enslavement of his people for his many constructions, and his son declared he would continue his father’s behavior.
  • Solomon married 700 wives and 300 concubines to improve relations with other nations, but, as chapter 11 testifies, his wives “swayed his heart after the gods of others, and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God.” Taking a thousand women to bed raises serious doubts that Solomon respected women and treated them appropriately. It is, therefore, ironic that the only testimony of his wisdom is from three women, two prostitutes and a pagan queen.
  • He built the first temple to draw his people to God and offered many sacrifices. But his wives persuaded him to make many, not one, temples for their idols.
  • Solomon sought to bring his people internal peace and rest from outside interference, but his actions provoked three rebellions against him during his lifetime. Two were from rebel non-Israelite leaders, not monarchs of nations. They were foreigners from whom Solomon failed to anticipate danger despite his many marital alliances. The Bible does not indicate how the two adversaries disturbed him, but apparently, it was by nagging guerrilla attacks. They were antagonists “against Israel all the days of Solomon.” The third rebellion, led by Jeroboam, was from Solomon’s people, whom he tried to unite. Despite his wealth, international connections, and supposed wisdom, he could not overcome these antagonists.
  • Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh to create peace and good relations with Egypt. Yet Pharaoh harbored two of the rebels, one of whom married into his family. Solomon thought he could marry for national Israelite interests. However, the king of Egypt had his national interests that Solomon overlooked.
  • Curiously, inconsistently, and unwisely, while Solomon divided the tribes into administrative sections to diminish their tribal loyalty, he assigned Jeroboam as the tax collector for the two Joseph tribes, despite Jeroboam being from one of the tribes of Joseph from whom Solomon tried to protect himself. Jeroboam led one of the three rebellions and fled to Egypt, where Pharaoh protected him until Solomon died.
  • When the Bible states Solomon was wise, this is an ironic statement. The opposite is true.