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Here are the verses in question:

4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; and went not fully after the Lord, as David his father had done.

7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.

9 The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to go after other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. (1 Kings 11: 4 - 10)

A commentary I was reading says this:

...it is not stated that Solomon himself offered sacrifice to these idols...the words "went after Ashtoreth," etc., no more involve personal service than the word "built" in ver. 7 involves personal labour; but both expressions show that he regarded these idolatries not only without disfavour, but with positive approval and practical encouragement.

Another commentary says:

Went after - This expression is common in the Pentateuch, and always signifies actual idolatry (see Deuteronomy 11:28; Deuteronomy 13:2; Deuteronomy 28:14)

But the first commentary rebuttals by saying this:

He cites Deuteronomy 11:28; Deuteronomy 13:2; Deuteronomy 28:14; but it should be considered that in the two passages last cited the words are added, "and served them."

So I've come to the conclusion that Solomon himself did not personally offer sacrifices at these altars. His wives did. But it was still considered idolatry on Solomon's part because he was the one who allowed the high places to be built, and if his heart was fully after God, he wouldn't have allowed that.

Is this a reasonable conclusion for me to make?

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  • Makes sense, else the First Commandment is not limited to performing personal sacrifices. Apr 28, 2022 at 13:48

2 Answers 2

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The scriptures do not state that Solomon actually offered any sacrifices to the idols. But, it is so emphatically worded that the conclusion is that Solomon did offer sacrifices to those pagan idols. The translation in Young's indicates personal action on Solomon's part.

"5 And Solomon goeth after Ashtoreth god[dess] of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites; 6 and Solomon doth the evil thing in the eyes of Jehovah, and hath not been fully after Jehovah, like David his father." (1 Kings 11:5-6, YLT)

Vs. 4 clearly states that Solomon's wives turned his heart after their gods. God said Solomon did the evil thing, which was also called abomination.

The words translated as "goeth after" are continuing action, and indicates that Solomon was involved in the actual worship of these idols.

Excerpt from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

"...Solomon became a public worshipper of abominable idols! Probably he by degrees gave way to pride and luxury, and thus lost his relish for true wisdom...." Source: Biblehub

From Barnes' Notes:

"Went after - This expression is common in the Pentateuch, and always signifies actual idolatry" (Ibid)

Clarke's Commentary:

"... And did he not give them the utmost proofs of his attachment when he not only tolerated their iniquitous worship in the land, but built temples to their idols, and more, burnt incense to them himself? As we should not condemn what God justifies, so we should not justify what God condemns. He went after Ashtaroth, the impure Venus of the Sidonians after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites after Chemosh, the abomination of the Moabites; and after the murderous Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. He seems to have gone as far in iniquity as it was possible." Source: Clarke's

If Solomon was pleasing his wives by building temples for their worship to their idols but standing back from them, then his wives would have considered it a rejection and an insult. He was pressured into marrying so many women because of political affiliations with the nations that came to him with gifts of their daughters. A rejection of their beliefs may have seemed to be a political breach in the eyes of their families. It seems very probable that Solomon accommodated their beliefs by joining in their worship at those high places.

I don't think your conclusion has much support.

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I believe that with the lust of the flesh Solomon became addicted to sex with the desire to make it more stimulating after his rejection of God's love, "he should have repented to fill the loss after replacing God with Sin" Solomon failed to explore the possibilities of a greater relationship with God. The world and all it offers cannot fill or repair the damaged soul only God can.

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