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What happened to all of King Solomon’s sons?

Solomon had many wives and concubines:

1 Kings 11:3 ESV

He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.

Why is there only mention of Rehoboam?

1 Kings 11:43-12:1 ESV

43 And Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son reigned in his place.

1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king.

Should we assume that he was the only one withheld from sacrifice??

And did he have a child with Queen Sheba?

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  • Welcome to BHSX. Many thanks for this question. Please remember to take the tour (below) about the type of questions allowed here. Please include a passage of Scripture to analyse so that the question will not be rejected.
    – user25930
    Mar 29, 2019 at 18:45
  • You may want to also post this on judaism.stackexchange.com
    – Ruminator
    Apr 28, 2019 at 20:57

3 Answers 3

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Let me attempt to answer the three questions in reverse order.

The Queen of Sheba

There is a persistent story that the union of Solomon with the enigmatic Queen of Sheba founded an Ethiopian dynasty that lasted until Haile Selassie, supposed to be almost 3000 years. Unfortunately, there is no historical data to support this assertion - but there is just as little to refute it as well. That is, we do not know. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon )

Sacrifice of Sons

Child sacrifice in Israel was strictly illegal (Lev 18:21, 20:3, Deut 12:30, 31, 18:10, etc, see also Ps 106:37) and is quite unlikely (though not impossible see Isa 30:27-33) to have occurred. Even if it were practiced, it is unthinkable that a prosperous king would kill his own progeny and heirs. However, it is not impossible because according to the record in 1 Kings 11, Solomon provided places for the worship and sacrifice to foreign gods including Chemosh, Molech, etc, which involved child sacrifice. Just how many of Solomon's sons were actually sacrificed (if any), we do not know. The enigmatic reference in Isa 30:27-33 may allude to this. But again, it is unlikely that all of Solomon's children would have suffered this fate; but we are not told.

Silence

We have no record of Solomon's sons which must have been numerous. The fact that Solomon was about 60 when he died and Rehoboam was 41 suggests he was likely the first-born son, but no more are listed.

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  • To add to this, I find interesting that out of David's 17 sons that are listed, the bible only mentions the sons of Nathan and of Solomon. The sons/lineage of Nathan is the line of Mary, while the sons/lineage of Solomon is of the line of Joseph. If God's word is about the Messiah, it would suit the reader to pay attention to the lineage of 1 woman of Solomon than the other 999. SOURCE: biblefamilytree.info
    – user42370
    May 17, 2021 at 23:42
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Among the sons of the kings of Israel and Judah, it was the rule, rather than the exception, for the biblical writers to name only the son who succeeded to the throne. David's sons were a notable exception, because his life is told in great detail. A similar example is found with Ahab of Israel, the most famous and wealthy of the northern kings. His son Ahazaiah was reportedly one of 70 brothers (2 Kings 10:1), but none except Ahazaiah is named.

It is alo notable that among Solomon's many wives, only Rehoboam's mother, Naamah, is named. The same pattern follows here: only the mother of the next king is mentioned. It continues with Jezebel, the most famous Queen of Israel. None of her sister-wives is named although her husband had 70 sons.

Interestingly, two of Solomon's daughters are named. However they are mentioned not in their own right, but as wives to significant men:

  • Taphath -- married to Ben-Abinadab (1 Kings 4:11)

  • Basemath -- married to Ahimaaz, in Naphtali (1 Kings 4:14})

Human sacrifice

To the question of Solomon's other sons not being mentioned because they were victims of human sacrifice: this is more plausible than it may seem on the surface. In the biblical account, Solomon's kingdom was divided because he supported his wives' religious practices.

On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek [Moloch] the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. (1 Kings 11)

We have already seen that Rehoboam's mother was an Ammonite. There is no indication that the above offerings included human sacrifice but this did reportedly occur in her country of origin. However, we know from the above that only the succeeding son was normally mentioned in the biblical account, so we should not assume Rehoboam "was the only one withheld from sacrifice." Solomon deserves as much as anyone to be presumed innocent of such a crime until proven guilty.

Queen of Sheba's son

About Solomon's supposed son with the Queen of Sheba, this is even more plausible, and it is accepted as fact by millions of Ethiopian Christians and others. The account in 1 Kings 10 gives more details about Solomon's relationship to her than to any other woman and speaks of her being "overwhelmed" by his court's magnificence. She solidified her alliance with him with an exchange of opulent gifts. If she had no daughters of her own to offer as a wife/concubine, as other monarchs did, it is not out of the question that she would seal the alliance by conceiving a shared child with him. The account concludes by saying:

King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country. (1 Kings 10:13)

Whether such a child was actually born, his existence is definitely affirmed by literally millions of Christians.

Out of all the nations that claim her, she has the most profound impact upon Ethiopians. For them, this mythical queen is the founder of their Ethiopian civilization and one who's cherished and beloved by their Christian population. Ethiopia's account of the Queen of Sheba is seen as the first ancestor of Ethiopia's imperial kings, known as the "Solomonic Dynasty". The Queen of Sheba is seen as the founding ancestor of this imperial line and the beginning of Ethiopia's cherished 3,000 year historical claim. According to Christian Ethiopians, upon visiting Jerusalem, Sheba was seduced by Solomon, and gave birth to their son of Menelik. After Menelik grew older, he would end up journeying back to Jerusalem to visit his father Solomon and subsequently stole the Ark of the Covenant to Aksum, where it resides in St. Mary of Zion Church.

However this is a matter belonging to Christian legend, not the biblical account.

To conclude, only Rehoboam was named as Solomon's son because it was the convention throughout the biblical account to name only the son who succeeded to the throne, with few exceptions. We should not presume human sacrifice was a factor in only Rehoboam being named. It is plausible but far from certain that Solomon conceived a son with the Queen of Sheba.

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What I find interesting about this account is not so much that Solomon had a son with an Ammonite woman, because as already noted, he loved many foreign women. But since Rehoboam was 41 when he began to reign, and since Solomon reigned 40 years, this wife must have become Solomons wife while David was still king. Solomon married an Ammonite woman while David’s rule was fading! Hence, the issue of foreign women was an issue with Solomon even when in his early reign, he was so blessed by God, and was building the temple.

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