King Solomon’s lost and coveted treasure

In the Hebrew Bible, the third king of Israel, Solomon, is described as a wise, powerful, and extremely wealthy king who reigned from 965 BC to 925 BC. It is written that he ruled a prosperous empire and built magnificent palaces and fortresses in Jerusalem, and built the first temple to house the legendary Ark of the Covenant, a gilded box believed to preserve the original Ten Commandments passed down by God to Moses. . But when his Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 597 and 586 BC, it is said that the Ark of the Covenant and his other treasures disappeared and were never seen again.

King Solomon’s treasure
In historical records, Solomon is described as a king with enormous wealth. For example, in the Book of Kings I (one of two books of the Bible from which most of our knowledge of Solomon comes, the other being Chronicles II), it is written that,

The weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, / Besides that he had that of the merchants, and the trade of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.

Additionally, it has also been noted that,

King Solomon made two hundred tablets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold for one tablet. / And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pounds of gold for a shield: and the king placed them in the palace of the forest of Lebanon. / In addition, the king also made a large throne of ivory and covered it with the finest gold.… / All of King Solomon’s drinks were of gold, and all the utensils in the palace of Li- The ribbons are all of pure gold; there is nothing like silver: it was not counted in the days of Solomon…. / So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in wealth and wisdom.

Solomon’s huge wealth made many people believe that there was a great treasure hidden somewhere, waiting to be discovered. However, the exact contents of this ‘treasure’ are quite uncertain and could range from gold and silver objects to the long-coveted Ark of the Covenant.

The Rich and Powerful King Solomon with the Queen of Sheba, oil on canvas by Edward Poynter, 1890 (public domain)

Treaty on ships
In a Hebrew text called ‘Treatise on the Vessels’, translated into English about two years ago, Solomon’s ‘treasure’ included the coveted Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, musical instruments of gold and the high priest’s vestments.

Other possible objects from the ‘Treasure of Solomon’ can be found in the numerous legends surrounding this king. One such legend tells of Solomon possessing a ring engraved with the name of God. With this magic ring, Solomon can command the demons to do his bidding.

King Solomon’s Ring – Designed by artist David Weitzman

Solomon’s Golden Table
Another Solomon artifact is his table, which appears in a story surrounding the Muslim conquest of Iberia. In this story, the governor of Morocco, Musa Ibn Nasyr, commands the invasion force and orders Tariq Ibn Ziyad, one of his Berber vassals, to lead the vanguard. Incidentally, Tariq’s landing place was what is now known as Gibraltar (the name is said to be derived from the Spanish word Jabal Tariq, meaning ‘Mount Tariq’.) Before his lordship Once we crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, Tariq defeated Roderick, king of the Visigoths, and captured his capital, Toledo. It was in this city that Tariq is said to have found a golden table rumored to be from the Temple of Solomon and claimed it as his spoils.

When Ibn Nasyr arrived in Toledo, he heard about the golden table and wished for it himself so that he could give it as a gift to the Caliph in Damascus. As a result, the table was confiscated by Tariq. The subordinate, clearly angered by Ibn Nasyr’s actions, broke one leg of the table and replaced it with an inferior one. Tariq knew that his lord was uncultured and would not notice the difference, while the Caliph would recognize it immediately. This became true when Ibn Nasyr presented the table to the Caliph. When asked to explain, Ibn Nasyr could only reply that he saw it that way. Tariq, who was also present in Damascus, later took the real table, as evidence that the table had been confiscated from him. Tariq was rewarded, Ibn Nasyr was punished, and the table kept by the Caliph eventually disappeared from history.

The final story involving a possible object in ‘Solomon’s Treasure’ can be found in a colorful story called ‘The Legend of Prince Ahmed Al Kamel, or the Pilgrim of Love ‘, can be found in Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra, an anthology of stories collected while he was in his grand Moorish palace in Granada. Solomon is mentioned a few times in this story. For example, the prince is said to have learned the language of birds, which the Queen of Sheba is rumored to have taught to Solomon. Solomon is mentioned again as the owner of the silk carpet stored in a sandalwood box in the Toledo treasury. This carpet (said to have been brought to Toledo by Jewish refugees there after the fall of Jerusalem) had magical properties and was used by the prince to fly back to Granada with his Christian princess .

‘Pilgrim of Love’ stained glass window at Sunnyside Memorial Gardens, Long Beach, California (thinduck42/Flickr)

The disappearance of Solomon’s treasure
In 589 BC, the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II besieged Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of the city and Solomon’s Temple in the summer of 587 BC. It is said that at this time, Solomon’s treasure disappeared and was never seen again.

According to the Treaty of the Jars, the treasures were hidden by some of the Levites and prophets and “hidden in various locations in the Land of Israel and in Babylonia, while other treasures were entrusted into the hands of the angels Shamshiel, Michael, Gabriel and perhaps Sariel.”

Archaeologists and historians are uncertain whether the Ark of the Covenant was stolen, destroyed, or hidden, and many continue to search for this long-lost treasure.

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