The Massive Number Of Wives King Solomon Had

King Solomon, the ancient king of Israel whose wisdom made him a key figure in the historical narrative of the Old Testament, has been taught about in both Sunday School and in serious Biblical and historical scholarship for centuries. Solomon's wise rulings, for example, impart wisdom to Jews and Christians, and his own writings of poetry and brief truisms are studied not just as sacred writ but as Western literature as well.

Solomon was also depicted in the Bible as indescribably wealthy. Indeed, though oftentimes the narrative presented in sacred writings, such as the Bible, doesn't always match up with documented historical fact, historians are in general agreement that he may have been one of the richest men to ever live, according to Marketwatch.

Not uncommon for a man of his time and culture, Solomon also had a staggering number of wives. Unfortunately, according to the Bible, his propensity for taking wives cost his kingdom dearly after his reign. This is the story of Solomon and the massive number of wives he had.

Solomon had around 1,000 wives and concubines

According to I Kings 11:3, Solomon had 700 wives. By comparison, most modern practitioners of polygamy tend to keep the number of wives limited to one or two digits. For example, according to The Daily Mail, as of 2011 an Indian man named Ziona Chana had 39 wives. As of 2016, a Nigerian man named Mohammed Bello Abubakar had 97 wives, according to India Today. Mormon pioneers Joseph Smith and Brigham Young had 30 and 55 wives, respectively, according to The Vintage News.

In addition to his 700 wives, Solomon also had 300 concubines, according to the Biblical narrative. PerĀ Britannica, concubinage is the practice of a man and a woman entering into a permanent, and sexual, relationship, but without the legal benefit of marriage. So for example, a child born to a concubine would not have the same legal and inheritance rights as a child born to a wife.

Why did Solomon have so many wives and concubines? At least one of his marriages, to the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh, was, according to I Kings 3:1, a political alliance. Similarly, Solomon was simply quite fond of women, according to the Biblical narrative.

The bible says that Solomon's fondness for wives cost his kingdom dearly

Not all of Solomon's wives were Israelite women. Indeed, the Old Testament narrative says that the ancient king took his wives from among the neighboring tribes of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites. What's more, that was explicitly not allowed.

"They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, 'You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods,'" according to I Kings 11.

Indeed, according to the narrative, just as God had predicted, Solomon allowed his foreign wives to worship their tribal gods, and to even set up temples to worship them. God punished the king for this, according to the narrative, by stripping away the power of his kingly office after he died, and by setting the stage for a later split in the ancient kingdom.

However, according to Bible critic Jerome T. Walsh, via JSTOR, the Biblical account of Solomon may be less actual history and more of a fable, compiled by later editors, to blame the eventual splitting of the kingdom on Solomon's sins.