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King Solomon, 1872 or 1874, by Simeon Solomon; egg tempera with touches of varnish on paper mounted to board at the National Gallery

Solomon was a judge who became the third king of Judea. He lived circa 970–931 BCE and was the son of King David. The first temple of the Jews was built during his reign. King Solomon was considered by his contemporaries and many who came after him to have been the “wisest of all men” and a master of astrology. His court judgements are still cited in modern law texts as examples of logical decision-making based on spontaneous self-incriminating evidence given by sworn witnesses.His most famous case involved two single mothers who roomed together and had born babies at the same time. When one of the babies was found dead in the morning, both mothers claimed that the surviving child was theirs and that the dead infant was the other mother's. When the women were brought before the King for him to judge the truth of their claims, he called a bailiff to bring a sword; the baby was hung upside down and the baby was suspended by one foot. Solomon then said,that since he could not decide, the baby was to be cut in half. To this outrage, the false mother gave her consent, but the true mother cried out to let the other woman have the baby, hoping thereby to spare its life. King Solomon wisely decided that the woman who wished the child to live, even if it was not to be raised by her, was the true mother, and awarded her the child.

A zoologist and wizard who could talk with the animals, he was also said to have possessed a ring that gave him the power to control demons and command them to work for beneficent purposes, such as helping to build the Temple to JHVH. This ring was originally described as a six-pointed or hexagram-based star, similar to the “star of David”. However, the triangles were in an interlocking weave, which confused and confounded demons. The depiction of the Seal of Solomon as a five-pointed star originated centuries later with an ostensibly Jewish grimoire called the Testament of Solomon, which was written between the 1st and 5th century E. This text, originally written in Greek, is generally thought to be a Christian pseudepigraphical work attributed to Jewish sources. Two similar, but even later grimoires, also falsely attributed to Solomon, are the Key of Solomon (in Latin the Clavicula Salomonis, and in Hebrew Mafteah Shelomoh), a 14th or 15th century Italian work, and the 17th-century grimoire called The Lesser Key of Solomon or Lemegeton.

According to Jewish traditions, King Solomon piloted a flying carpet that could transport forty thousand people, and eagles served as his personal entourage, flying him around the globe and from Heaven to Gehenna. Solomon was not a warrior or a commander of great armies; rather he was a lawyer, judge, and civil works administrator. For this reason images of King Solomon generally show him as a bearded man in royal robes, wearing a crown, and seated on a throne in a posture of alert readiness to solve problems, negotiate business and civil matters, and settle court cases. Jewish oneiromancers believe that to dream of King Solomon symbolizes the coming of wisdom or knowledge. Symbols associated with him form a large body of talismans and amulets for all manner os spiritual help.


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