The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 5 – part 3

Eutychius continues with the reign of Solomon.

7. It is told that Hīram, king of Tire, was the first king to wear purple.  The cause of this was a shepherd who had a dog.  This shepherd went, one day, together with the flock and the dog, right onto the shore of the sea.  The dog took a shell that was lying on the bank, of a color similar to purple, and ate it.  In doing so, it filled its mouth with the blood of the shell.  Seeing him in that state, the shepherd took a woollen cloth and wiped the dog’s muzzle with it.  Then he put that woollen cloth on his head, like a crown, and so he began to walk in the sun, so that all those who saw him thought that rays of fire were coming out of his head.  Learning of this, Hīram, king of Tyre, sent for the shepherd who went straight to him.  [Hīram] saw the crown, was amazed and very pleased with the color, and ordered the dyers to dye an equal.  The dyers, then, went to the seashore, looked for shells until they found them, and they smelled the purple.  This is how we got purple (36).

The length of the temple that Solomon, son of David, built was sixty cubits, the width twenty and the height one hundred.  The interior was made all overlaid with gold.  Inside the temple he built a cedar-wood tabernacle twenty cubits long, twenty wide, and twenty high.  The inside and the outside he covered in gold.  On it he had the image of the cherubim sculptured in gold; the length of each of these was ten cubits, the width was five, one on the right and the other on the left of the tabernacle.  Each of them had six wings. They kept their wings spread out over the tabernacle as if to cover it.  He brought the ark from the city of Sihyūn and placed it in this [new] dwelling place.  In front of this tabernacle he had two majestic and imposing copper columns erected, each one thirty cubits high and five wide.  He then made a crimson veil studded with all kinds of precious stones and had it hung on the columns facing the tabernacle.  Then he made a table of copper on which to lay the bread of the sacrifice, twenty cubits long, twenty wide and ten high, which was covered all with gold and precious stones.  He then brought into the temple every vessel of gold, silver or precious stone.  He then built a palace for himself and covered it with gold and silver.  Inside the palace he built the hall of judgments, a hundred cubits long, fifty wide and thirty high, with four rows of cedar columns covered with gold on which stood four porticoes carved in gold.  Then he made a great ivory throne, engraved in gold and set with precious stones, and he had it placed in the centre of this hall, and he used to sit on it when he was busy with the affairs of the people.  He finished building the temple and the palace after seven years.  From the reign of David to the end of the construction of the temple fifty-nine years had passed.

8. The tributes owed to Solomon, son of David, each year were six hundred and sixty six thousand “qintār” (37) of gold, in addition to that from trade.  His daily provision was thirty “kurrs” of flowers of flour, sixty “kurrs” (38) of flour, ten calves, twenty-two bulls, one hundred sheep in addition to deer, goats, and birds.  In the palace of Solomon there were a hundred tables of gold and on each table a hundred trays and three hundred plates of gold, and beside each plate three hundred cups of gold.

One day when Solomon was sitting in the courtroom, two women came forward carrying a baby. One said: “Yesterday, I and this woman gave birth in the same house. The son of this woman died during the night while I was sleeping. She then took her already lifeless son and put him on me, taking my son.” The other said: “This child is mine. It is the son of this woman who is dead”.  Solomon then asked that they bring him a sword and taking the child with one hand he said: “I will cut the baby into two parts and give half of it to each of you.”  But the child’s mother said: “My lord, do not divide it. Give it to her”. The other said: “Divide him, so that he is neither mine nor hers”. Then Solomon gave the child to the one who had said “Do not divide it” because, from the love that she had shown for him, he realized that she was the mother.  And the people remained in admiration of his judgment (39).

Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (40).  Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh Shīshaq (41), king of Egypt, and took her to Ūrashalīm.  Later the pharaoh left Egypt, attacked the city of ‘Āzar (42) and set them on fire.  He also burned out the Canaanites who lived in Māri‘āb (42), took their possessions and sent them to his daughter, the wife of Solomon.

9. Hearing about King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba (44) came to him with many gifts and gave him one hundred and thirty “qintār” of gold (45).  Solomon granted her all that she asked and [the queen] went away.  Solomon, son of David, married [many] women of foreign tribes, of the Ammonites, the Amalekites, the Moabites and other [peoples].  He loved them, and because of his intense love towards them they induced him to build a temple for them where he had idols placed for them to worship and sacrifice to (46).  For this reason, Solomon, son of David, was removed from the list of prophets.  Among his soldiers there were forty thousand riders on mares and twelve thousand horsemen on horses (47).

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