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I also collected silver and gold

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for myself, as well as the treasures of kings and [their] provinces,

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and I acquired

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male and female singers,

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and the delights of the hearts of men, meaning many concubines.

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I amassed for myself quantities of silver and gold far beyond the norm, and I plundered other kings and nations without raising the sword;

I also enjoyed the performances of musical groups who performed only in my presence. Besides that, I had what would cause envy among many, that is the legal and socially acceptable opportunity to have sex with multiple women any time I wanted.



The text does not say it was an extravagant amount of silver and gold, but the context of the entire passage points that direction. Therefore the translation column states it simply while the paraphrase column is more intense.

2: “kings and their provinces”

This was usually done through plundering after a victorious war. But Solomon did not like to use warfare as his tool of expansion. Instead he acquired many things as gifts from those he made treaties with and those who visited him. In this case, because it was a gift to the wealthiest man alive, gift-giving was an extravagant affair. What do you give someone who literally has everything? You give your very best and lots of it. Why did they give him gifts if he already had so much? It was their custom to give gifts on several occasions and in several situations, and they wanted to keep this man on their good side so they did what they could to keep him happy. To not follow the customs that governed those relationships was considered rude, a slap in the face. By saying he had collected the treasures of kings and their provinces he was saying that the gift-giving was so extravagant and so extreme that he had effectively plundered many nations without having to invade them. By mentioning provinces he is saying that those kings had to dig deep and take much more from their people in order to bring him the gifts they brought.

The treaties he entered into with other nations may have required annual payments of gold, just like many covenants did. In order for the kings to pay these tributes, some had to pillage their own people. We know from Scripture that the weight of the gold that came to Solomon in a year was 666 talents (25 tons or 23 metric tons) (I Kings 10:14 and II Chron 9:13). That figure did not include the money from the merchants and the traders and from all the kings of the people who had mingled with the Arabs and from the governors of the country (I Kings 10:15). Take 25 tons and multiply it times 2,000 pounds, times 16 ounces, and you get 800,000 ounces of gold. I won’t tell you the value because the price of gold is constantly changing, but if you want to know the monetary equivalent for today, multiply the current price of gold (spot price) times 800,000 ounces.


This verb comes basically means “to do, to make or to accomplish.” How do they get “acquire” out of this? They do so in the same way that in English we say “make money.” We don’t create the money, that is illegal, but we work to earn it. Here Solomon says he took steps to acquire these singers and concubines, they were not all gifted to him, some of them he actively sought.

4: “singers”

I Kings 4:32 tells us that Solomon wrote 1005 songs, meaning that he loved music and was probably a talented musician himself. Thus the musicians who performed just for him, as was the custom for kings, were the very best available, and they practiced much in order to produce excellent music every time.


This word can mean either “musical instruments” or “concubines.” If he had not prefaced it with the phrase, “the delights of the hearts of men,” musical instruments would fit the context well, but that descriptive phrase clearly points toward the meaning of “concubines.” Many have assumed that Solomon had sexual relations will all the women available to him, whether wives or concubines. Having many wives was not against God’s law, nor would it have been seen by his contemporaries as problematic, although God’s preferred arrangement was the system He established at the beginning, i.e. in the garden of Eden – one man and one woman. Later on some problems would develop with Solomon’s wives, but it was not so much the number of them, but rather that they were raised to worship foreign gods. My understanding of the life of Solomon, based on much careful study, is that in the early years, and even through his middle age, he tried to do what was right in God’s eyes, and God smiled on him. Solomon’s apostasy came at the end of his life, and there is no biblical evidence for any repentance or turning back to God. I do not think he utilized his harem of concubines very much; they were mainly trophies of his many international treaties. I believe he had sexual relations with his concubines very infrequently. But that changed when he began to fall away from God at the end of his life. There is also reason to believe that he required his many wives to become converts to the Jewish religion before he married them. There is also reason to believe that Solomon was very distrusting of all women (except the Shulammite). If you haven’t already, please see my study series about the Life of Solomon.

Keep in mind that, in this passage, he is pointing out things that do not truly satisfy. His situation was the envy of men everywhere, but he is telling them that he did not find true, deep or lasting fulfillment in it. He did however, find true satisfaction in his relationship with the Shulammite, until she died and left him “alone” despite being surrounded by women he could call his own.