[b-hebrew] "Book of the Acts of Solomon" a credible source citation?

Brian Roberts formoria at carolina.rr.com
Tue May 25 11:05:17 EDT 2004


Dear Listmembers;

I'm working on a theory that seeks to understand the chronicles system 
from the Hebrew Bible (inferred from the texts) in general, and the Book 
of the Acts of Solomon specifically, as bibliographical sources used by 
the biblical redactors. What the theory states basically is presented 
below.

The Book of the Acts of Solomon likely served as a source material for 
the compiler of Kings; further, this source material very likely 
contained court or temple records, treaties, private journals and the 
like for the reign of Solomon, including information on the liaison with 
the queen of Sheba.

The statement of argument for the origins of the accounts of Solomon’s 
reign comes from passages in two books of the Old Testament. “And the 
rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are 
they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?”  (I Kings 11:41) 
The parallel account in II Chronicles, while admittedly compiled much 
later than I Kings, still sheds more light on the origins of this 
source. “As for the other events of Solomon's reign, from beginning to 
end, are they not written in the records of Nathan the prophet, in the 
prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite and in the visions of Iddo the 
seer...”  (II Chronicles 9:29 NIV) Now, Nathan, of course, was the 
prophet under David who also wrote of Solomon. Ahijah of Shiloh was the 
prophet who tore his robe into twelve pieces before Jeroboam to 
symbolize the coming dissolution of the United Monarchy (I Kings 11) 
Iddo was a court scribe and prophet under Solomon, Rehoboam, and Abijah. 
The writer of I Kings seems to be trying to convince us of the 
legitimacy of his source material, and that this material was implicitly 
trustworthy. This reference is made in an offhand way, as if the writer 
felt no need to go into great detail about something that was common 
knowledge to his audience, nothing more than a bibliographical 
reference. James Pritchard is of the view  that "'The book of the Acts 
of Solomon' is a lost work which obviously included more information 
which the writer of I Kings neglected to include" (Pritchard, James B., 
ed., et al.  Solomon and Sheba.  London: Phaidon Press Ltd., 1974., p. 
31). The biblical redactor makes reference to other source materials 
which he names in like manner. Upon the death of Jeroboam, there is 
mention of “the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (I Kings 
14). When Rehoboam dies, we read of “the book of the Chronicles of the 
Kings of Judah (I Kings 14) and “the Book of Shemaiah the prophet, and 
of Iddo the Seer concerning geneologies” (II Chronicles 12:15). There is 
a record of the creation of this system in I Chronicles 9:1, which says 
“so all Israel were reckoned by geneologies; and behold, they were 
written in the book of the Kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried 
away to Babylon for their transgressions.” This system seems to have 
been created to mark the shift from a Judge-governed nation to a 
King-governed nation.
In fact, there is internal biblical evidence for the assertion that this 
system of sources was quite extensive.

Lost Sources in the Old Testament

Numbers 21:14        The book of the wars of the LORD
“Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD, What he did 
in the Red Sea, and in the brooks of Arnon”

Joshua 10:13            The book of Jasher
“And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had 
avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book 
of Jasher? So, the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted 
not to go down about a whole day”

2 Samuel 1:18           The book of Jasher
“(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow; 
behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)”

I Chronicles 9.1       The book of the Kings of Israel and Judah
  “so all Israel were reckoned by geneologies; and behold, they were 
written in the book of the Kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried 
away to Babylon for their transgressions.”

I Chronicles 29:29      The book of Nathan the prophet
                                         The book of Gad the seer
“Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are 
written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the 
prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer”

I Kings 11:41              The book of the acts of Solomon
“And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his 
wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?”

II Chronicles 9:29      The records of Nathan the Prophet
                                        The prophecy of Ahijah the 
Shilonite
                                        The visions of Iddo the Seer

“As for the other events of Solomon's reign, from beginning to end, are 
they not written in the records of Nathan the prophet, in the prophecy 
of Ahijah the Shilonite and in the visions of Iddo the seer”

II Chronicles 12:15   The book of Shemaiah the Prophet
                                   The book of Iddo the Seer concerning 
geneologies
“Now the Acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the 
book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer concerning 
geneologies?”

II Chronicles 13:22     The story of the prophet Iddo
“And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are 
written in the story of the prophet Iddo”

II Chronicles 20:34     The book of Jehu, son of Hanani
                                        The book of the kings of Israel

“Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they 
are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in 
the book of the kings of Israel.”

II Chronicles 33:18&19     The book of the kings of Israel
                                                The Sayings of the Seers

“Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and 
the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of 
Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. His 
prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sins, and his 
trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves 
and graven images, before he was humbled; behold, they are written among 
the sayings of the seers.

Given the long period of time covered by this system of references, we 
can make two inferences about it at the outset. Firstly, it seems to 
have been part of a cohesive and focused effort on the part of a small 
group of redactors to sift through the vast numbers of source materials 
they possessed in the time of the Captivity. We can infer that it was a 
small group of redactors who had access to these materials because of 
the grammatical similitude among their notations. The phraseology of  
“now the rest of the acts of <insert king here>, first and last, did 
<insert prophet and/or scribe here> write.” is common in the Book of 
Chronicles, whereas in the Books of Kings “now the rest of  the acts of 
<insert king here>, and all that he did, and wisdom, and his sayings, 
are they not written in the <insert lost source here>?” These formulaic 
notations points to a simple bibliographic use of the sources. The dry, 
off-hand utilization leads many to conclude that they refer to works 
that did exist at the time of the Captivity.

These formulaic notations are inserted into various points, from the 
book of Numbers (which relates events back to the time of Moses and 
Joshua), all the way up to the time 50 years prior to the Captivity. 
This points to a conscious retroactive insertion by the later Exilic 
redactors invoking sources which are now lost to us. Judging by the 
explicit and implied stature of the men who are said to have contributed 
to it, that source material is quite likely to have been court records 
of some kind, and were official records of the king that were used by 
the writer of Kings to compile his work.

Pritchard held the opinion that the material in the Book of the Acts of 
Solomon included, and may have been dominated by, the Queen of Sheba 
account (Pritchard 7). Connecting The Book of the Acts of Solomon to the 
inception of the queen of Sheba story is a logical and rational move, 
one that has not been successfully refuted by reputable scholars. 
Nicholas Clapp observes that the Book of the Acts of Solomon was a court 
record is fortified by the passages immediately prior to and following 
the queen’s visit. It presents in detail Solomon’s “prowess in foreign 
affairs”(Clapp, Nicholas. Sheba: Through the Desert in Pursuit of the 
Legendary Queen. New York: Houghtin Mifflin Co., 2001., p. 22). The 
Jerusalem Bible echoes this sentiment, calling this segment of I Kings 
“Solomon the Trader”.

I would be very interested in any insight into more recent or in-depth 
research into both these references to earlier sources and to the Hebrew 
language meanings of the above-cited English translations.

Best Salaams,

Brian Roberts



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