Throne of Solomon

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Depiction of Solomon's throne

The Throne of Solomon is the throne of King Solomon in the Hebrew Bible, and is a motif in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Hebrew Bible[edit]

The term "throne of Solomon" is alluded to in the Hebrew Bible; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada blesses the elderly David saying "may the LORD... make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David." (1 Kings 1:36). In metaphorical terms of kingship, the throne is seen as either David's or belonging to God himself; "Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king" (1 Chronicles 29:23). The design of the physical throne itself is described in 1 Kings 10:

18 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the finest gold. 19 There were six steps to the throne, and the top of the throne was round behind; and there were arms on either side by the place of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. 20 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps; there was not the like made in any kingdom. JPS 1917

According to I Kings 7:7, Solomon's throne was placed in the Porch of Judgment, being actually an audience chamber where the king sat in judgment. Its floors were paved with cedar wood. In the Aramaic translation it is described as being an anteroom or vestibule, called "porch of the pillars."

Judaism[edit]

A Jewish tradition holds that the throne was removed to Babylon, then Ahasuerus sat on the throne of Solomon.[1] Another tradition holds that six steps related to six terms for the earth.[2][3] According to the Targum Sheni of Megillat Esther, Solomon's throne was one of the earliest mechanical devises invented, with movable parts. When it was transferred to Persia some centuries later and used in the palace of Ahasuerus, it ceased to work. It has been described as a throne overlaid with gold, and studded with jewels; emeralds, cat's eye, the Baghdadi onyx, pearls and marble. It was ascended by many steps, the sides of which were aligned with twelve sculptured lions of gold, before whom were golden sculptures of eagles, the right paw of each lion set opposite the left wing of each eagle. As one approached the top of the staircase, there were another six steps directly in front of the semi-circular throne, each step with a pair of sculpted animals, each in gold; the first step having a couching bull opposite a lion; the second a wolf on its haunches opposite a sheep; the third a panther opposite a camel; the fourth an eagle opposite a peacock; the fifth a wildcat opposite a cock; the sixth a hawk opposite a pigeon. Above the throne was a seven-branched candlestick which afforded light, each branch bearing a sculpted image of the seven patriarchs: Adam (the first man), Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job among them.

Above the throne was also a sculpted design showing seventy golden seats upon which sat the seventy members of the Sanhedrin, adjudicating in the presence of King Solomon. At the two sides of King Solomon's ears were fixed two fish of the sea. At the very top of Solomon's throne were fixed twenty-four golden wings that provided a protective shade and covering for the king, and whenever the king wished to ascend his throne, the bull on the first step would, by a movable, mechanical contraption, outstretch its forearm and place the king upon the second step, and so-forth, until he ascended the sixth step, upon which ascension mechanical eagles then descended and lifted-up the king, placing him upon his throne.

Christianity[edit]

The New Testament speaks only of the "throne of David," as in the angel Gabriel's message in Luke 1:32 in relation to the Davidic line, and notably the Gospel of Luke gives the descent of Jesus via Nathan (son of David), not Solomon. In religious tradition the Seat of Wisdom in Roman Catholic tradition is associated with Solomon, and in art, such as the Lucca Madonna (van Eyck), which portrays the Virgin sitting on the throne of Solomon.

A "Throne of Solomon" was also among the Solomonic objects of the Byzantine Court at Constantinople.[4][5]

Islam[edit]

The throne of Solomon featured both in Islamic commentary, and art, including mosque decoration.[6]

The concept has given rise to various geographical names:

The Peacock Throne of Shah Jahan was commissioned to underscore his position as the just king.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alexei M. Sivertsev Judaism and Imperial Ideology in Late Antiquity 2011- Page 22 "The tradition that Ahasuerus sat on the throne of Solomon was already known by the mid-third century. ... On the title cosmocrator in Rabbinic literature, see Krauss, Paras we-Romi, 87–89; Shimoff, “Hellenization among the Rabbis,”184–85."
  2. ^ Joseph Verheyden The Figure of Solomon in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Tradition 2012 Page 132 "Six steps lead up to the throne in reference to the six terms for the earth (Erez, Adamah, Arqa, Ge, Zia, Neshiah—Tebel is not included here), the six .. ... a king. it had six steps and it rose above these six steps, and it had six paths each with six steps, and on each step were two lions and one ...
  3. ^ Shmuel Safrai, Peter J. Tomson The Literature of the Sages -2006 Volume 2 - Page 182 "The teachings of the Babylonian rabbis... the allegorical significance of the six steps to the throne of Solomon; the throne in captivity (1:12);"
  4. ^ Kieckhefer, Richard (1989). Magic in the Middle Ages. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 101. ISBN 9780521309417. visited the imperial court at Constantinople and reported on the marvelous Throne of Solomon displayed there
  5. ^ Tougher, Shaun (1997). The Reign of Leo VI (886-912): Politics and People. Leiden: Brill. p. 124. ISBN 9789004108110. One of the most intriguing Solomonic objects kept at Constantinople was the throne of Solomon, which is named only by the Book of Ceremonies.
  6. ^ Finbarr Barry Flood The Great Mosque of Damascus: Studies on the Makings of an Umayad ...2001 - Page 85 "... manifestation of the golden vine-tree in such a context is, however, in connection with the fabled throne of Solomon."