Solomon’s Early Years

Solomon spent many hours spent seated in the enormous square-roomed summer loft of his palace, where the only external stimuli were cool flowing winds and the ambient tranquility of chirping birds. He had crafted this place as a personal sanctuary away from the imminent concerns of the country. He rarely allowed others in, nor would anyone have known what to make of it. On the convex rounded ceiling was a painted night sky with the stars arrayed as they are around the time of the festival of atonement, with the milky way’s dazzling, varying shades of indigo and blue, coupled with Solomon’s lighter markings and notes, which could only be seen when the early-midday sun lit up the room through the large balcony to the northeast. Solomon had this room in his palace constructed like a diamond whose tips perfectly pointed to the North, South, East, and West; the only building in the city to have that orientation. All others were more or less along the directional orientation of the Temple – East to West and North to South.

Against one side wall from the entrance was a massive set of shelves stretching the full length of the room, perhaps 20 or 30 stables long, overflowing with scrolls, parchments, and various objects. The two walls to the right and left of the entrance were affixed with every weapon of war one could imagine: halberds, broadswords, spears, bows, quivers filled with arrows, slings, shields, gleaming metal armor, and a few crooked shivs – those meant to hide a thigh-sheath or loose outergarment for assassinations. In the center of this mosaic of the implements of war, one curiously large two-handed sword was affixed – larger than any average man could have easily wielded – with an intricate gold-filigreed handle and hilt, with blade tip facing downward right above the doorway, threatening to fall upon any human who dared enter. The door itself was expertly crafted cedar, engraved from the inside in flawless Hebrew script, Chet-Kaf-Mem-Hey. “Wisdom.” The interior engraving no one saw until very late in his reign, since the door opened to the inside, and that side of the door faced away from whoever entered.

Dead in the center of the room was a large throne facing the outer balcony, with four rectangular cedar tables positioned facing the South, East, North, and West, diagonally oriented with the throne and the rest of the room. The last wall was entirely blank. Nothing but stones and mortar. On each of the tables would be positioned various drawings, writings, notes, and basically whatever represented Solomon’s current projects. One table might have an unstrung bow, a braided bowstring soaking in some concoction, a carving knife, and various arrows. Another might have a number of different alcohols fermented from one of Solomon’s gardens. One of them always had a map from Egypt to the Euphrates with political lines, strongholds, and marked distances, although often objects were placed upon it.

Solomon preferred long periods of contemplation and found that discussion with his servants usually ended up draining him, as he had already arrived at certain facts and analyses while even his more intelligent servants were still formulating the relevant questions. Solomon waited for them to arrive at those issues and questions, since he needed his servants properly tested and developed to carry out his visions properly. He grew accommodated to waiting for others to catch up to him such that he did not outwardly express any frustration, although the itching sensation of that period of waiting never left him. He recognized men of skill immediately. Discovering men of ability and placing them where they would best develop and prosper was a salve to this angst. This angst was the knawing of a hole in his soul as wide as the Dead Sea for just one person with whom he could interact with as an equal. This unsatisfied angst drove him to constantly seek new pursuits. The relief of starting a new pursuit afresh, with its prying others for their practical experience or intuition of mechanics, or experimenting with the laws of nature were other genuine comforts to his internal turmoil. Eventually, this too grew banal and the effect was lost.

Ever since he had dreamed at Gibeah and heard from Yah, his studies and instruction with the high priest and his best scribes was quickened. He could tell them answers to questions they hadn’t asked yet, since their line of argument was so clear to him and he would arrive at the destination before them. He was always a quick study, but he was forever changed after that visitation.

During his formative years as king, it seemed every month he had a new obsession. For a time, he had morning discussions in moral and civil law with Ahaziah the priest, assistant to Zadok. Ahaziah grew to hate those meetings and was relieved when they ended, not merely because Solomon seemed to bring him there to ask him hard questions he could not answer or correct him on every inaccuracy in prior discussions. Primarily, however, these meetings grieved Ahaziah because he saw the germination of the seeds of a sort of self-loathing in Solomon that came when Solomon had learned so much from and about someone that his ability to predict their answers and behaviors became nearly perfect. The relationship dynamic changed for the worse after that. Ahaziah recognized that Solomon’s ability to maintain a friendship or have confidantes was consistently aborted by the otherworldliness of his mind. Solomon would do an evening three instrument musical session with Haman and Asaph and would give them newly written songs and poems that worked best with the musical traits of various instruments. Asaph’s humility was to his benefit since Solomon began recognizing when his pitch strayed imperceptibly flat or sharp.

He had excelled beyond what the scribes could teach him within a year, and the priests within two. He had virtually memorized the entire law and thus playfully dismissed the high priest’s reminders that he was still obligated to write out a copy of the law as prescribed for Israelite kings. He replied via a servant that “I can assure my eminence that the entirety of the law is written on my heart, and I am happy to repeat it back to him whenever he wishes.” Solomon’s ability to dominate any intellectual or practical endeavor was so stunning that he began to have a crowd of scribes, levites, merchants, farmers’ hands, and even foreign visitors waiting at the gates to his throneroom, many who had arrived before the sun had fully risen above the Mount of Olives just to ask him his opinion on some issue or problem on any range of subjects: sheepherding, proper soil composition and testing methods for grapegrowing and winemaking, architecture best practices, occasional follow up questions about this or that instruction he had given weeks prior, and legal and philosophical questions. Solomon could effortlessly explain the advantages of building with certain types of stones and how varying temperatures across seasons would affect the stability of a structure; this would be interjected with an analogy to the sound resonance that comes from a harp built from almug tree wood which would only last a half-decade or so under heavy use versus utilization of harder, more majestic and decay-resistant wood such as cedar which was more suited to furniture or building frames, yet didn’t have the same richness of sound of the almug instruments.

Solomon would embarrass those who failed to heed his advice, telling them specific details about what they did with very minimal supplied information. It became known among the people that lying to Solomon was virtually impossible, and within a few questions an offender would be outed. On one occasion he corrected a man who said his ox had broken the support beam for a canopy, spilling a large barrel of corn into the dust of the ground which mixed with the dew of the morning to muddy them, wasting half of it, and was asking for a generous subsidy to cover the cost. Solomon told the man that he had the eyes of one who drinks wine before he has eaten his first meal of the day, and that the wood-colored markings on his tunic and the condition of his fingernails told him that the man had a bigger problem than the lost corn. Solomon instructed him to cease spending his family’s sustenance at the vineyards, and he should be more cautious when he saunters out of bed in a stupor to fill his wineskin. The man was permanently banned from entering Solomon’s court.

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