As a preface, this is in reference to the remarkable fame that Solomon experienced due to his renowned wisdom, his remarkable building projects, and his unprecedented wealth. Unfortunately, these latter two achievements came at the expense of his people. He began taxing them heavily and relying on forced labor to see the fulfillment of these grand designs. So if you're feeling in the mood for a little politics, here is a (long, sorry) quote from "People of the Bible and How they Lived" from the Reader's Digest Association:
"The life of the common man had been disrupted. In the past a man's wealth had been calculated mostly by the land he owned, the number of flocks he had and the size of his family. Solomon's sweeping economic changes altered that system. Land was no longer of supreme importance--in fact, it may have become somewhat of a burden. The more land a man owned, the more crops he could grow, and thus the more he would have to turn over to the king's officers when collection time came around every 12 months. Likewise, flocks were surrendered to tax collectors and sons were forced to serve on month of every three in the king's labor force.
"Now wealth was calculated not by property ownership but by the amount of money a man controlled. Certainly more and more money in gold and silver came into Israel every year, but very little of it ever filtered down to the average Israelite, who had to surrender so much of his livelihood to the king's coffers. Instead, the money was used to pay growing international debts, salaries for the full-time government officials, commissions to merchants and artisans in the king's employ, temple and palace upkeep and other expenses."
For the first time in Israel's history, there began to be a distinct difference between 'rich' and 'poor.' The king and his household were rich; the common people were poor. In between were the salaried civil servants and the merchants and artisans, many of whom had organized craft guilds by that time. Such class separations had not been know in the Israel where a shepherd boy like David could be anointed king--only 50 years earlier." (emphasis added)
I'm not going to start waxing philosophic about politics and pretend like I know what I'm talking about. (Although I have been pondering lately about the difference one voice can make and the responsibility we have to speak out, but that deserves another post all to itself.) In this case, I merely wanted to observe that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That is all.
Good night, Gracie.