Troublesome Topic: How Solomon Came to Distrust Women Part 2

I finished the last lesson with these words about Solomon’s distrust of women: “I believe there are a few scattered puzzle pieces that can be put together to create a partial picture of what was going on. It will not be a full picture; a number of the pieces will still be missing, but it will give us an idea of what possibly happened.”

The puzzle pieces are actually tidbits of historical facts, but I think you will find the picture that emerges to be interesting. It is also the best explanation I know for how it is possible that Solomon elevated a wife to an exceptionally high status, while also having a strong distrust for all women.

Be forewarned that this mental exercise requires a good bit of speculation; it is not anything I can prove, rather it is an educated guess.

Let’s build a puzzle where most people didn’t even know a puzzle existed!

1. When he was king of Judah but not yet king over all Israel, David made the decision to marry a foreign princess named Maacah, daughter of Tilmai who was the king, or who later became the king, of Geshur. This decision bore bitter fruit because Maacah’s first son was Absalom, the one who took the throne from David for a short time. (In a striking bit of irony, Absalom means “his father’s peace,” and Leabsalom, as I Chronicles 3:2 calls him, means “for his father’s peace,” names which Absalom did not live up to.)

2. Back when the Israelites were making their way to the promised land the Ammonites and the Moabites met them with hostility instead of letting them pass through their land, even though Moses had requested safe passage and they would pay for anything they used. Therefore God said that “an Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of YHVH; even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of YHVH forever” (Dt 23:3).

Blood lines were counted through the father not the mother, so a woman, like Ruth, could become a convert to Judaism and be allowed into the court of women. But no male of the Ammonites or the Moabites was allowed to become a convert to the Hebrew religion.

David conquered the kingdom of Ammon and installed Shobi as a puppet king.

Shobi showed wisdom and earned David’s favor. Later, when David was fleeing from Absalom, Shobi brought him food, water, and bedding in an act of kindness (II Sam 17:27).

3. We know from I Kings 14:21 that Solomon had a wife named Naamah, which is the same name as the daughter of wicked Lamech in Genesis 4. The name means “pleasant, or pleasure.” Naamah is from the same basic root as the name Naomi, which also means “pleasant or pleasurable.” Naamah was the mother of Rehoboam, the successor to Solomon’s throne. She is spoken of in I Kings 14:21 as “the Ammonitess,” not just “an Ammonitess.” This indicates that she was well known or important. In that day, the most common way for a young woman to be well known was for her to be a princess. In the case of Ruth, she is called “the Moabitess” because everyone was talking about her and she was the protagonist of the story in the book of the Bible that bears her name. Was Naamah the daughter of Shobi? There is a very real possibility that she was, and a number of commentators think that she was, but we cannot be sure.

Rehoboam was born one year before Solomon was made king because Solomon reigned 40 years and Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became king (I Kings 14:21). Thus Solomon’s marriage to Naamah had to have happened before he was made king.

4. Is it likely that David would have gotten a wife for Solomon from the Ammonites?

I don’t think so. Since the pain from Absalom’s coup and subsequent death was still stinging David’s heart, I think that David would advise against marrying a foreign princess, even if the politics involved indicated it was a good idea. If David wanted to show kindness to Shobi, he could have done so in a number of ways other than arranging for his son to marry Shobi’s daughter.

So how was it that Solomon ended up marrying an Ammonite princess?

5. If the marriage was not arranged by David, the other option is that Solomon had an affair with this princess, got her pregnant, and was forced to marry her. I have reason to believe that this is what happened and it originated with Naamah; she seduced Solomon into having an affair with her before they were married (I will come back to this point).

Rehoboam’s name means “a people are enlarged.”

Because Rehoboam was an illegitimate child he would not have been seen as “king” material. So how did he end up on the throne? I will come back to that point also in a future lesson.

6. This affair almost cost Solomon everything he had dreamed about, including the kingship.

David had been watching Solomon to see if he was indeed the man of peace and wholesomeness that his name indicated, the man God said He would establish on David’s throne after him. Earlier David had become convinced that Solomon was living up to the meaning of his name, “the man of peace, or the wholesome man” and he promised Bathsheba that Solomon would be the next king. Then Solomon had his affair with the Ammonite princess and got her pregnant. Solomon regretted the act, but David was now dubious about Solomon’s character. Of course David had also had an affair, but he was hoping his son would not do the same. But contrary to his wishes, the apple did not fall far from the tree. For this reason David waited and waited without making Solomon a king alongside with him, called coregency. In fact, David waited so long that Solomon almost missed his opportunity to be the king.

7. In Ecclesiastes 7 there is one more interesting detail; it has to do with the meaning of names. I said earlier that Naamah and Naomi were from the same root and both of them mean “pleasant or pleasurable.” If Ecclesiastes 7:26 or 28 had used a form of the word “pleasant/pleasure” we would know that it was Naamah that he was talking about, but it is not that easy. However, verse 26 does use the word “Mara,” which means “bitter.” It is possible that the following play on words was intended: One woman named “pleasant” (Naomi), had become “bitter” in her own eyes and wanted to be called “Mara” (bitter), later another woman (Naamah), was seen by a young man as “pleasurable,” but when he fell for her seductive influence, she turned out to be “bitter” to him, as bitter as death.

8. It is my educated guess that Solomon had an affair with Naamah, the daughter of the king of Geshur and it almost cost him the kingship. If Adonijah had succeeded in retaining the throne which he took for a very short time, he would have killed Solomon (see Solomon’s Rocky Ascension to the Throne ). So it is not far-fetched to say that this affair almost cost Solomon his life. It is my assumption that this is where Solomon’s distrust of women came from as expressed in Ecclesiastes 7:26 and 28. There was only one woman he found that he could trust, and I believe she was dead by the time Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes. That woman was the Shulammite.

The next lesson is: Solomon’s Rocky Ascension to the Throne