Friday, January 06, 2006

If It's Good Enough for King Solomon- The Wisest of All Men, It's Good Enough For You and I

Executive Summary:

King Solomon was called by himself and chazzal "the wisest of all men." King Solomon had very good yichus (pedigree), having been the favorite (and first born?) son of King David himself! You have to assume pretty good chinuch as well. Nevertheless, in tanach, I Kings 11, it is clear that King Shlomo engaged in idol worship. Not just subtle idol worship, mind you, but all-out idolatry with the imprimatur of the King himself. He offered sacrifices not just to one idol other than God, but he actually built ALTARS to the deities of several gods! Now, God knew about this, but didn't punish Solomon whatsoever. He allowed Solomon to reign for 40 years. He allowed Solomon's son to become the next king, albeit with a partial slap on the wrist punishment of diving the kingdom between the son and another king.

The point is- this extreme example poses myriad impossible to answer questions for fundamentalist Orthodox Jews and even the "rationalist" OJ's who claim halacha is binding and that God himself was fair in dispensing justice and executing his own laws.

The Source:

King Solomon worships other gods (and a goddess!)in
I Kings 11 and gets virtually no comeuppance.

Here are just a few of the problems raised by this (and this explains why 99% of orthodox Jews have no idea of the above, and why tanach is not taught to yeshiva students even after they've been there for 20 years!).

Here we go:

1. There is a principle that God holds high level Jews to a very high standard of observance. Thus, the story goes, that's why Moshe was kept out of Israel over a minor infraction;

2. King Solomon, King David's own son, would clearly know all of the alleged Oral Law and all halacha, as the Temple was standing in his lifetime and none of the purported transmission would have been lost;

3. There are at least a dozen admonitions under pain of death, by God himself throughout the Torah and Tanach not to engage in idol worship and not to make alters or "graven images" to deities other than Adonai/yaweh/Hashem/God/Elokim/El/Shaddai (yes that's one god). Yet, the King himself made sacrifices and actually constructed idol worshiping alters! While God shows some displeasure, he nevertheless metes out NO PUNISHMENT to Solomon! This, from the God who tells Moshe to kill a man for carrying sticks on Shabbos when even Moshe didn't know it was death to do so, and ostensibly, the guy carrying didn't as well if the godol hador didn't!);

4. This directly undercuts the Rabbis nowadays who engage in apologetics and always claim Jews from "those days" were on a much higher madrega (spiritual level) than we today;

5. This makes the entire mesechta Avoda Zara look ridiculous, since the Rabbis of the talmud claim even the slightest things can be "idolatry," e.g., bending over in front of an idol (even to tie a shoe!). And then we had the modern day brouhaha where Rav Elyashiv banned wigs that might contain hair used in an hindu religious service. You got to wonder what Rav Elyashiv would say about King Solomon!

6. The blatant idol worship and alternate deity worship of King Solomon makes it clear why in Koheles (the tanach reading for Succos) he claims "all is futility under the sun' and why he never talks about heaven or the afterlife. Then , the last line of Koheles (probably written in by someone else) says, oh, by the way the only thing that matters is doing God's mitzvohs). Riiiight. And the god of the hittites, jebusites, and on and on;

7. This essentially proves that Solomon had no oral law and did not learn it, or believe it. In the alternative, it means he simply didn't believe in God or fear him whatsoever;

8. It shows that all the nicey-nice teachings (in the talmud and the modern day Artscroll mush) about "chinuch" (educating youth) are farcical. After all, with King David for a father, and having the aptitude of being the wisest man of all, King Solomon was basically a philosopher who sacrificed to any old god and didn't believe all the nonsense we have nowadays thanks to the rabbis. After reading the quotes and thinking about it, do you really believe Solomon wore tzitit and tefillin and a yarmulke? Or that he ate kosher? How about not eating blood? Or not marrying gentiles? (He apparently married HUNDREDS of gentiles). Thus, our second greatest King, son of the Greatest King, and King of the First Temple, and the great grandfather supposedly of out future Moschiach, was an idol-worshiper.

What say all of you?

1 Kings 11
1But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites:

2Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.

3And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

5For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

6And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.

7Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.

8And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

9And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,

10And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.

11Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.

12Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.

13Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.