Friday, October 19, 2012

The Mysteries of King Solomon’s Mines

Author:  Christian Nunnley

The biblical figure, King Solomon , was the ruler of the first great Israel kingdom and builder of the first temple in Jerusalem. According to the bible, it states that Solomon was the richest and wisest man of his time. The historical documentary entitled, Quest to Solomon’s Mines, tells us about legends of Solomon’s magnificent gold mine, Ophir ,which is thought to be the source of gold that King Solomon used to build his great temple (“Quest for…”). Although, the mines were never mentioned in the bible, there have been Hollywood movies such as King Solomon’s Mines, which provided great speculation that the mines existed. Despite Hollywood efforts, the archeologists have constantly revisited the site and found nothing. This site still remains a mystery because there is little evidence to prove the existence Solomon or his gold mines.

There is very little evidence about the existence of Solomon outside of the bible. In the bible, it discusses how the most important achievement that Solomon accomplished was building the temple of God in Jerusalem. About three thousand talents of gold from Ophir and seven thousand talents of silver were used to build the enormous temple (New International Version, I Chronicles. 29. 3-4).  The building took about seven years; however, it stood for about four hundred years. According to the Holy Bible, The International Version,
“The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high. He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar. Solomon covered the inside with pure gold, and extended gold chains across the front of inner sanctuary, which was overlaid with gold” (New International Version, I Kings. 6. 20-21).
Once the temple was completed, Solomon dedicated the Temple in a public ceremony of prayers and sacrifices. Eventually, the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians around 587 B.C. The question that has perplexed archaeologists is where the amount of gold used to help build the temple came from. Unfortunately, the location of Ophir was never mentioned in the bible; however, there is some speculation that it is located in Africa.  
Picture of broken ceramic bowl found by Muslim workers.

There were very few ancient artifacts present after the temple was destroyed. However, archeologists recently found artifacts from the time of biblical King David and Solomon's Temple.  According to Michele Chabin, Israel correspondent at Religion News Service, “archaeologists have unearthed a trove of artifacts dating back to the time of biblical King David that they say closely correspond to the description of Solomon’s Temple found in the Book of Kings.” The artifacts that were found at the site were pottery, stone and metal tools, and art objects. In Chabin’s article, Yosef Garfinkel, Hebrew University archaeologist, states “these findings are extraordinary because it marks the first time that shrines from the time of the early Israelite kings were found.” Unfortunately, while some artifacts were present at the site, they were no different from other artifacts found in other various places. Therefore, these findings might not be connected back to any biblical references or provide an exact location to where the temple once was. Also, there were no human remains present at the site to prove the existence of King Solomon.

In my opinion, I believe that King Solomon was a real character based off the bible.
Even though, there is little physical evidence to prove the reigns of King Solomon, archeologists have found ancient artifacts that were made of copper dating back to his reign. As far as the location of Ophir, it still remains a mystery because the exact location was never mentioned in the bible. There still is some dispute over whether King Solomon was an actual historical figure, the gold mines exist, and if the bible is an accurate record of events. However, archaeologists are continuing to look for ways to validate the Bible.
Works Cited:
“Quest for Solomon’s Mines.” Nova. Dir. Graham Townsley. PBS. 2010. Youtube. Youtube, 2012. Web. 12 Oct. 2012.

Chabin, Michele. “Khirbet Qeiyafa Excavations Find Evidence of Solomon’s Temple, Archeologists Say” The Huffington Post, 5 Oct. 2012. Web. 12 Oct. 2012.

I Kings. 6. 20-21. New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. 280-281. Print.

I Chronicles. 29. 3-4. New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. 358. Print.

Israel Antiquities Authority. "Solomon’s Temple Artifact Found." Photograph.
NationalGeographic. National Geographic Society, 23 Oct. 2007. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.

Schoenberg, Shira.  “Solomon: Biblical Jewish King.” The American-Isreali Cooperative Enterprise, 16 Oct. 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.

Links for further research:

Jewish Virtual Library
Provides a lot of prominent information on Solomon’s life and the construction of the First Jewish Temple. 

Quest for Solomon’s Mines
Archeologists find the truth about the Bible’s most famous king and his legendary riches.

King Solomons Mines Rediscovered
New study suggests the site Jordan has been producing metal possibly during King Solomon’s reign.

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