The pharaoh whose daughter Solomon married (1 Kings 7)

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Illustration: King Solomon had a thousand wives and concubines

Solomon acquired a number of foreign wives (1 Kings 11:1) as the result of diplomatic marriages as he forged peaceful ties with surrounding nations early in his reign (3:1). The only such wife about whom we know anything specific is the daughter of an anonymous pharaoh. Solomon gave her a private palace (7:8), and she received the city of Gezer as a dowry gift from her father (9:16).

The identity of the pharaoh whose daughter Solomon married is somewhat problematic. The rulers of Egypt during this time (the Twenty-first Dynasty) were from Libya, so the pharaoh’s daughter would have been of Libyan descent. Based upon the dates of Solomon’s reign (970-939 B.C.) and Egyptian chronology, the most likely candidate is Siamun, who ruled from the capital at Tanis in northern Egypt from 979 to 960 B.C. A relief located at Tanis depicts Sianum slaying a captive. Some suggest that this represents a campaign to Philistia, since the captive is pictured holding a double Ax, a weapon thought to be Philistine. Thus, some scholars argue that Siamun led a campaign against the Philistines and in the process captured Gezer, which he later gave to his daughter.

There are several difficulties with this explanation, however:

  • The era of David and Solomon was the high point of Israelite power, and it would have been imprudent for an Israelite king to have allowed a foreign invader like a pharaoh to come so near the heart of Israelite territory.
  • The pharaohs of the late Twenty-first Dynasty were ineffective, and it is questionable whether Siamun could have mounted such a campaign.
  • Philistines are nowhere else represented with double-bladed battle axes, and thus the relief portraying the warrior with such an Ax is of doubtful significance.

Still, there is no reason to doubt that Solomon did marry an Egyptian princess. Both Israel and Egypt engaged in diplomatic marriages, and the Bible account seems too detailed to be a fabrication. Also, the capture of Gezer by the pharaoh’s forces may have been by prior agreement with Solomon’s government. Gezer was at this time a weak city, and if its capture was carried out with Israel’s support it would not have required a major Egyptian expedition. Allowing Siamun the honour of capturing this city could conceivably have been a face-saving way for Solomon to enable a weak pharaoh to provide hid daughter with a meaningful dowry.


 

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