Beware your Egyptian contracts

Sixteenth in the Solomon Series

Before we study how the Lord punished Solomon, let us consider the backdrop of his demise.

Was it "OK" for Solomon to marry Pharaoh's daughter? Would there be any reason he should not have?

In Deuteronomy 17:16 God instructed Israel not to multiply horses to have increased concourse with Egypt, considering the mighty deliverance that had set her free from Pharaoh and slavery. That miracle was to be held in honor forever. But would bringing an Egyptian wife to Israel run counter to that command?

David had a foreign wife. Absalom's grandfather was Talmai, king of Geshur. (1 Ch 3:2). Kings of that epoch were expected to have harems, and Israel had been built by polygamy, wives and concubines; but those were not patterns God intended.

These facts help to explain why Solomon's liaison with the Egyptian was accepted, but our lives must not be guided by family practices or cultural norms that do not reflect God's highest and best, and that do not uphold his law.

Israel had been told not to take foreign wives. In Deuteronomy 7:3-4, Moses instructs the Israelites regarding the Canaanite nations, "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

Perhaps there was some leniency in the days of the kings, since not all foreign tribes were Canaanites, nor much beyond Israel's borders. As well, did not Joseph marry an Egyptian and were not Ephraim and Manasseh of this line?

But the principle of marrying within the family was begun with Isaac. (Gen 24:3); Esau caused his parents grief by marrying Hittite women. The principle carried over to New Testament teachings: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14)

Was Solomon's marriage to the Egyptian a "state" matter? As covered in a previous post, the alliance came about because Pharaoh helped to secure Israel's borders by driving Canaanites out of Gezur. That victory provided her dowry. It seems that Pharaoh had a goal to ally with Israel now that she had become great.

Was not the princess a proselyte to Judaism? But if so, why did Solomon say: My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because [the places are] holy, whereunto the ark of the LORD hath come. (2 Ch 8:11)? She was removed to dwell outside of Jerusalem, not within the city of David.

Yet to say that Solomon should never have married Pharaoh's daughter presents theological problems. Why is the Song of Solomon the only one of his songs to be preserved as well as included in holy Scripture? Does that not give a stamp of approval to this marriage? Or, might it be only a story presented for our edification, like the story of Samson and Delilah? We appreciate its meaning when we have read further to understand its ramifications.

Unlike Delilah, the Egyptian princess was a gracious creature, truly in love with her lover; but Solomon's desire for her and his other foreign wives had an echo from the past, "Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well — " spoken by Samson, though his father and mother had pleaded: "Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?" (Judges 14:3)

Did Solomon ever wonder if he should have paid Pharaoh in gold for Gezur rather than by marriage contract?

If we accept the Song of Solomon as a wedding song for a marriage NOT made in heaven, we would see the need to compare Scripture with Scripture for meaning and context. As we go beyond Songs to Ecclesiastes and read about Solomon in 1 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles, we realize a context for warning and not rejoicing.

However, many much wiser than I have seen the Song of Solomon as a divine allegory of Christ's love for the church, so I will not refute that, but only say, Young person, be certain of your marriage plans. Love is strong as death.