Emilio Spedicato, University of Bergamo, Release 2, September 2015
Dedicated to Giuseppe Tucci, whose forgotten discovery opened a new scenario for the greatest man in human history.
King Solomon , in view of his special qualities as a man according to Bible and Josephus Flavius of the greatest wisdom, knowledge and political glory, has always fascinated scholars and laymen during the three thousand years that have elapsed since he lived. Reading of the biblical texts opens serious questions related to the his historicity and his deeds, so that in recent years several scholars have doubted even his existence. In this paper using information from some extra biblical sources, and a discovery by Tucci, we show that a scenario can be obtained which is compatible with the ancient statements on Solomon’s special wisdom, glory and knowledge. In our view Solomon appears as a man fully satisfying the qualities attributed to him. Moreover we obtain unexpected insights on the origin of Buddhism and alphabet. The material is given here at a preliminary level, to be later expanded.
2. Solomon: a basic biography
In Milan near the Central Gallery there existed till some time ago the Bet Shlomo, or House of Solomon, managed by rabbi Samuel. After having unsuccessfully tried to contact him, as well as the brother of Agha Khan, on an early Monday morning I was walking through the Gallery on my way to the station to take a train to Rome. I noticed a short stout man with an immense beard and I thought that he was rabbi Samuel: Shalom, are you rabbi Samuel, the father of 17 children ? 17 for now, he answered. I asked him why Bible says nothing about how many children Solomon had from his 700 wives (plus 300 concubines). He said they were not real wives. A couple of hours later in the train to Rome I met the personal Pakistani helicopter pilot of Aga Khan! He was in Italy to learn to drive the new very expensive Agusta helicopter that the Aga Khan had recently bought. Next, one evening in Venice I met another man with black hat and beard, an Israeli rabbi this time. I asked shalom, where is Solomon’s tomb? His answer: no one knows. Two stories above are about two fundamental questions that Bible leaves unanswered, both in Septuaginta and Masoretic text, for the following reason: while Bible never, in my opinion and save for a few obvious translation or transmission errors, tells untrue facts, it often omits important facts, letting a wrong vision of the true story emerge for a superficial analysis. But other sources exist and by intelligent use of them we can often retrieve the true story.
On Solomon we know from Bible a number of facts, among which we quote the following ones, that will be our concern here:
- he lived at a time that can be related to the tenth century BC
- he reigned for 40 years
- he obtained from God the gift of the highest wisdom
- he was head of a kingdom extended from the river of Egypt to Euphrates
- he had 700 wives and 300 concubines
- he built a great temple in Jerusalem, described in detail with the use of precious materials. This temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC, reconstructed when the Jews returned from exile part after 540 BC and part after 459 BC under leadership of Esdra. It was restored by Herod the Great in Roman times, definitely destroyed by Titus in 70 BC. Its place is now partly occupied by the mosques of Omar and El Aksa
- he was visited by the Queen of Sheba, who arrived with many precious gifts after a travel of unheard of length.
From Josephus Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, a member of the 24 high priests families who alternated in the care of the temple, a man of very great culture, dynamism, political connections, a friend of Vespasian and Titus, from whom he obtained the Temple library before it was destroyed, we learn that:
- Solomon became king at age 14, after killing a competitor, and was king for 80 years, hence died aged 94 years
- since he had asked from God the gift of wisdom, God gave him the extra gifts of glory and science.
Now many scholars, among whom professor Paolo Benedetti, a Jew who teaches at the Theological Seminary in Milan, claim that Solomon never existed, and that the same is true for David and Moses. While not so explicit as De Benedetti, many other Italian bible scholars are close to him, being uninterested in the possible historical content of the Bible, seen only as a text useful for moral and theological considerations, produced at the time of Esdra.
Here we will not deal with the origin of the ideas of De Benedetti et al, to be found first in the Egyptian chronology of Lepsius and Champollion, who wrongly dated a Sothic year cited in De die natali of Censorinus, as pointed out by Velikovsky (1952) and Clube and Napier (1981), secondly in fundamental errors in the geographic identification of the Land of Canaan, see the Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi (1988, 1996). Here we will only look and tentatively solve by a new insight the differences between the biblical text and Josephus. We get a scenario that fully supports the claim of greatness of Solomon, ending with an indication where his tomb is found.
Let us first consider the differences in statements by Bible and Josephus:
- the 40 and 80 years of kingdom can be explained by the reasonable hypothesis that after 40 years of full administrative work, once the temple construction was ended, Solomon decided to visit his vast empire, see below, to return his many wives to their original royal families, wherefrom they had been sent to him as a token of submission and honour. We notice that Solomon is criticised in the Bible, and considered a sinner, since he had taken foreign wives and had allowed foreign cults, a sign of tolerance and wisdom that was not appreciated by the fundamentalists Hebrews around him. It is quite likely that his foreign wives and their offsprings would be killed after his death (just recall how Moses for much less ordered the total extermination of the Madianites, except the virgin women, a huge number of 200.000 persons according to a source quoted in Ginzberg book Moses in the desert)
- of the trip of Solomon there is no trace in the Bible, but we can see evidence in several monuments, locally venerated, called Takht e Suleiman, Thrones of Solomon, that are found in several places in SW Asia. A partial list includes Hamadan in Iran, Taxila in Pakistan, Srinagar in India, on the top of the Suleiman range in Pakistan, Beluchistan and even in Fergana, Kirgizistan, a valley famous for apples and fruits and for the most expensive horses in ancient world (Chinese gave one imperial princess for one horse; the valley was very likely visited by Alexander who loved horses, his Bucephalus being the even more expensive horse from Norwegian fiords; from the nearby Bororo hills he probably took a number of soldiers that later settled in the Hunza valley of Pakistan, being called Hunzakut from the other people, but still calling themselves Bororo…).
- his kingdom extended from the River of Nile to Euphrates. If Euphrates was the present river of Mesopotamia it would have been a kingdom extended mainly over deserts. Now there are strong arguments, based upon the almost forgotten Cosmography of Aethicus Ister, a sentence of Nearcus given in Strabo, the analysis of the biblical Eden geography and the travels of Gilgamesh, see Spedicato (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004), that Euphrates was the original name of Indus. The original consonantic name, PRT, is also reflected in the original name of India at Vedic times, say Bharat, seen also in the name of the epics Mahabharata. The name changed probably after people entered present Pakistan from the north Turanic region around Syr Darya, and including Fergana. Notice that Syr means lion, that Indus is called Senge, meaning lion, in Tibetan language and in the Tibetan region where it originates from the sacred Kailash mountain. And its name in Periplus Maris Aerithraei, Sundh, presently Sindh, by relation with Syr, Senge, should mean Hence the Indian Euphrates changed his name when foreign people occupied that area. It follows from this identification of the eastern border that Solomon kingdom was very extended, possibly greater than that of Alexander or even that of Gengis Khan, since we do not know its northern border.
- we are not informed of wars resulting in the formation of Solomon’s kingdom, hence we should consider the hypothesis that the kingdom resulted from the voluntary submission of many kings, who were impressed by Solomon’s superior qualities. A kingdom forming in such a way would not be a unique case in history, since this was the case for the kingdoms of Ashoka in India, and of Yu in China. And there is a tradition that also Enoch had a large kingdom hat arose when 120 kings submitted to his authority, see In the beginning of Velikovsky
- after Solomon left for his long travel, his kingdom, left to the authority of his two sons Roboam and Geroboam, soon dissolved, the two parts under separate control of the two brothers ended under the control of Egyptians and Assyrians. In the many years of his travels Solomon probably made more than the estimated 100.000 km of Ibn Battuta travels. One by one he must have returned his wives to their families. It is likely that he ended up in India, having relinquished his wives and his riches. Here he may have spent his time in meditation and in writing books, among which some, as Proverbs, Qoelet, were retrieved in Hellenistic times, when contacts of the Mediterranean world with India became easier, and were translated into the Greek language of that time. Notice that because of the Hellenistic Greek used in such books they are believed by most scholars not to have been authored by Solomon, against the tradition of the Fathers of the Church and the Islamic scholars. Here we may surmise that they were written by Solomon in Sanskrit, a language that he certainly knew at least from his contacts with Indian people. Since Mithridates is said to have known 23 languages one may ask how many languages Solomon knew, he being a man of extraordinary knowledge, even able, according to widespread traditions, to understand the language of birds. In present times philologist Joseph Greenberg of Stanford knew some 70 languages, Cardinal Mezzofanti some 80 languages, the director of the EC translation bureau at least 85, and…Riccardo Bertani, a shepherd of Campegine near Parma, over 140, having written also about a thousand papers and a hundred dictionaries of Caucasus and Siberia languages.
An argument for the sojourn of Solomon in India comes from the following fact, published in an article by the great tibetologist Giuseppe Tucci, recently republished in the book The country where women have many husbands. Here Tucci states having found in Napal what is locally considered as the tomb of Solomon. It is located very close to the ruins of the palace where Buddha lived, in Kapilavastu (a name possible meaning the red monument), a village located in the jungle of Terai, name possibly meaning ta ra i = the great king holy. Not far from Kapilavastu, in Lumbini forest where Buddha was actually born, the ruins are found of another palace that belonged to Buddha. Here stands a famous column erected by Ashoka. We can wonder if Ashoka had also in mind Solomon when he ordered this monument. Additionally, we can wonder if prince Siddharta knew of the books of Solomon and was reading them under the comfortable shade of a tree when he got his famous illumination. That there are similarities between the ideas of Solomon found in the surviving books and the ideas of Buddha there is no doubt. And notice that as usual with ancient literature we may have only a small part of Solomon works.
2. Solomon and the Queen of Sheba
Let us know consider on of the most interesting and well known facts of the life of Solomon. This is the arrival of the Queen of Sheba. She was a woman of extraordinary beauty (as claimed in the Ethiopian national book, Kebra Nagast, which tells of the amazement of Solomon when with a trick he had her in his arms and was astounded by her extraordinary beauty) and of very great culture and intelligence. She arrived with a caravan loaded with precious gifts and objects of clearly tropical origin, including a unicorn horn; it was claimed no one had made such a long trip in the past. Her affair with Solomon resulted in the birth of a son, named Menelik (whose etimo could be luminous soul of a man of science). Menelik is considered the originator of the Ethiopian emperors dynasty, whose genealogy, kept through centuries, seems to be the second oldest one extant with a surviving member of the main line (the Japanese emperors dynasty starts in 6-th century BC; the one of the sufi leader Jibril Mandel Khan starts at Alexander the Great time, when a king of Bactria, an ancestor of Mandel, negated the conquest of his land to Alexander. A hundred miles north of Srinagar there is a village where a dozen Hebrew families live, one taking care of the monument they claim is the tomb of Moses, the genealogy of this family going back therefore to about 1400 BC….).
It is usually believed that Makedà, this the name of the Queen in the Kebra Nagast (possibly meaning great soul) had arrived from Yemen, where the Sabean people lived, and that at least part of the gifts she was bringing were of African origin. But the following objections are to be considered:
- a trip from Yemen was no novelty, since every year caravans arrived from there in the Syrian region and elsewhere bringing the special local products as incense and a kind of honey extremely expensive and of extraordinary taste (such a honey is still produced, I saw it in sale in Muscat a few years ago at 100 dollars a one litre bottle; and the archaeologists who did the excavations in Ubar, north of Dhofar, claim its taste is superior to that of any other honey)
- Yemen is not far from Jerusalem, a trip of less than 3000 km, and disregarding the claim by Salibi that original Jerusalem was in Asir, quite close to Yemen
- at Solomon time, Yemen, who had once a splendid civilization, had not yet fully recovered from the colossal destruction it underwent at time of Exodus, see Spedicato (2007 a,b,c,). At that time the tsunamic wave produced by the explosion of Phaethon lowered by some meters the water level in north Red Sea, allowing Moses to escape from Egyptians by bypassing a rock fall that blocked his way out of PiHahirot-Nuweiba, between see and mountains, and invaded Yemen’s lower parts with immense violence destroying everything. The entrance to Yemen is via a rather short strait, now named Bab el Mandeb, a name meaning, fact that is usually not reflected upon, gate of lamentations. Lamentations for the million possibly people who must have died in this tsunamic event around the Red Sea, many more than in the event due to the tsunami that recently killed some 300.000 people around Bengal gulf. Archaeology has shown that for a period of about three centuries there are no traces of constructions in the Sabean land, the surviving people were probably so scared that they avoided the area affected by the tsunami fearing a return of the event
- an association of Makedà with the Sabeans exists anyway and will be briefly considered and given a different interpretation, behind which is the necessity of retrieving the great role of ancient India, played down for some two centuries by the English colonialists for political reasons.
- the unicorn can obviously be seen as the unique horn of the Indian rhino, the African rhino having two horns; thus another sign of an Indian origin of at least one of the important gifts (whether powdered rhino horns were already used in for medical purposes and as aphrodisiacs I do not know).
The above arguments strongly suggest that the Queen of Sheba came from India. Notice that with simple and acceptable linguistic variations we can reduce SABA-SHEBA to SIVA-SHIVA, changed in SHARVIAH among the Panjir Kafirs of 16th century AD, when Siva was one of their three main gods, as from a document of that time translated by Scarcia (1985?). Since Solomon kingdom extended, on the previously given arguments, to the Euphrates-Indus river, then Makedà was a queen of a kingdom beyond the Indus, maybe in the deep India of Ganges or possibly in its southern part, the India that many ancient conquerors (Sesostris First, Ninus and Semiramis-Sammuramat, Darius, Alexander….) tried to conquer but failed due to the climatic difficulties, the immensity of its population and the strength of its warriors. The India that the English conquered having superior weapons but also having exploited the criminal tyrant Tamas Kouli Khan Nadir Shah who crushed the Moghul empire and killed the four million inhabitants of Delhi, in what was probably the most bloody military operation against a great city, to which the famous Nanking event due to the Japanese really pales. An event that curiously almost no one knows, as well as no one knows that the founder of wahabism, Mohammad ibn Abdul Wahab, spent some twelve years with the tyrant who killed an untold number of Persians in the vain attempt to convert them to sunnism.
If Makedà kingdom, whose precise location is presently unknown to this author , bordered with that of Solomon, then we can explain two facts:
- her trip from India was certainly a very long one, between probably 7000 and 10.000 km, so possibly the longest trip ever made by a royalty for an official business (private longer trips are of course well known: Ibn Battuta travelled an estimated 100.000 km, including 9 trips to Meccah; Gilgamesh, according to our reconstruction, see Spedicato (2001 a,b), travelled in his second trip over 30.000 km, part by boat)
- the trip could be performed without danger since it took place partly through the kingdom of Makedà, a woman certainly very much respected and traveling safe in her land, part in the kingdom of Solomon, through territories controlled by kings subject to him by voluntary decision. We suspect she took the way of southern Pakistan-Iran, ancient Gedrosia, then less a desert than now. Perhaps this is the reason why Alexander too took that way, to be on the steps of the famous queen; but then Gedrosia was more probably desert, hence he lost many soldiers and risked himself to die of thirst.
The return trip most probably took place via sea, using the Indian fleet of the Tiranian Pani, the greatest navigators of antiquity (the Puni or Phoenicians are a subgroup of them who settled in the Mediterranean, see below). She may have departed from the port of Etzion Geber on an islet in front of present Eilat and Aqaba, that Solomon had developed for his intense trade with India and for possible export of the copper from the so called Solomon mines near Eilat. Perhaps if Kapilavastu means red monument, as suggested as possible etimo by prof Raniero Gnoli, private communication, the origin of the name might be related to the role of Solomon as exporter of copper, a pretty red metal, to India…. From Etzion Geber, Queen Makedà may have visited several location used as ports by the Panis in the eastern side of Africa, including Safaga (i.e. people of Shiva) in the Egyptian Read Sea coast, now an important resort place, Safaji Jezirat (i.e. island of the holy Shiva), the now abandoned important port in Sudan named Suakin and in Middle Ages Sawa Jinn (i.e. Shiva the demon, clearly an Islamic or Christian denomination of Shiva, whose statue in the Elephantina island near present Mumbay has a devilish look, with three heads and four arms). Possibly even Sofala (luminous Shiva) in Mozambique, on the mouth of river Sabi (clearly Shiva), not far from the town of Ophir, a replica of the name of the gold mine Ophir, the most important of Tibet till very recently, located about 5000 meters elevation in the sacred mount Kailash (hence justifying why Kailash, a mountain of gold, was considered to be Shiva’s throne). The Queen may have visited Madagascar, which has been populated by people coming or imported from India and Indonesia, and certainly Ethiopia, a land important since very ancient times. Ethiopia was probably visited by Abraham who probably left some of his followers there, hence the Quemant now surviving in little numbers and professing a most archaic form of Abrahamic religion, see Hancock (1999). She must have left her son there, the territory being probably a form of protectorate of her kingdom. She may have visited also Yemen and Oman and Makran-Magan, lands producing copper as well, and likely under Indian influence.
If she was still alive when Solomon reached India in the long trip he undertook when he was 54 (and we should here notice that 54 is a special number in antiquity, particularly common in the Indian area), a meeting of the two cannot be excluded, but we have no evidence for it (certainly we have addressed only part of the potentially interesting literature). The fact that Solomon’s tomb is located in Terai, part of Nepal, close to the best way to reach from the Gangetic plane the Tibetan plateau and particularly the Kailash mountain, suggests that the Queen palace, or one of her palaces, was near to the area where he died.
In the next section we deal with another extremely important possible characterization of Solomon, the one justifying Josephus claim that he excelled also in knowledge, and one where the role played by Maquedà may have been fundamental. Thus Solomon should retrieve his lost role of a man at top of mankind culture, as Newton (computational physics) and Von Neumann (computers and unescapable limits of mathematics).
4. Solomon as man of great knowledge and origin of alphabet
Now we shall deal with his science, one of the three gifts given to him by God, according to Josephus, while it is ignored by Bible, as common in bible about persons and situations where the biblical author wants to be silent. We ignore here statements in other extra biblical sources, including oriental ones, especially Persian, having fable-type features, like his ability of talking with animals (apparently available to some Indian yogis and to Saint Francis), and his possession of a flying machine. We only consider how he may have interacted culturally with the Queen of Sheba, since his relations with her certainly were not only at an erotic level.
If, as we surmised, the Queen had come from shivaitic India beyond Indus, she was certainly well expert in “magic” fields like tantra, yoga, ayurveda. She probably knew part of the immense literature in Sanskrit, Rg Veda being formed already in the fourth millennium BC, see Kak et al (1995), and Tamil, and also in the language of the so called Indus-Sarasvati civilization, whose political decay after the drying up of the Sarasvati about a thousand years before her time did not necessarily imply the loss of the cultural heritage. Let us here recall that the German philologist Schieldman and the mathematician Kak have both identified the “mysterious” language of this area as an old form of Sanskrit-Prakrit.
It is therefore natural to think that Solomon, who certainly knew writing systems of his time as hieroglyph, cuneiform, syllabic linear A and B, was exposed by his royal visitor to the Indian writing system as well, one again of syllabic type (and we may surmise that the origin of syllabic linear A and B could be India, brought elsewhere by visiting Panis). Why then not think that Solomon, a man of extraordinary intelligence, could not realize that the syllabic writing could be further simplified, using as many signs as single sounds identifiable in words, i.e. consonants and vowels? Observation only apparently trivial, since the variety of sounds is quite high (Italians for instance have two basic sounds for both e and o, but do not differentiate them in writing). Moreover the pronunciation of a single word is not strictly uniform, especially at vowel level, changing both in time and in space: even now a certain dialectal word can be pronounced differently even in nearby villages, as I verified in Salento, the southern part of Puglia. Apart from this problem, we should point out that a discovery aiming at simplifying writing and making it easily available to users, would have resulted in scribes losing customers. It is well known from history, and it is still true today, see cars that could make 40-100 km per litre but are not built with such a performance, that discoveries that are useful for the majority of people but make a powerful minority lose money, are not well seen and are often suppressed at the cost of the life of the inventor (ancient history presents many such cases). Here therefore is another good reason for the Bible to censor Solomon.
However the usefulness of his discovery did not escape his friends navigators, the Panis, who on order of king Hiram had brought him precious material for the temple construction, in particular the cedar. The cedar used was almost certainly not the Cedrus lebanotica of present Lebanon (where it survives in just a few trees), which is not apt to constructions, since it develops more horizontally than vertically, with big contorted branches. It had to be Cedrus deodara of Kashmir and Himalayan slopes towards India. This tree grows straight, reaches up to 60 meters elevation, the branches are slim and straight, the wood is reddish and contains a chemical that defends it from insect attack; it can stand up to 300 years in water without putrefying; it is the only wood acceptable in Asia for building temples and sacred statues. Biblical scholars that have claimed the Temple cedar as originating from Lebanon have shown ignorance of botany, history of sacred construction in Asia and have not read Tucci, one of the greatest scholars of Italy in the 20-th century. Hiram was certainly a king of Phoenicians, but Phoenikoi is a word meaning red and it clearly refers to the Red Sea wherefrom they had come, see just the beginning of the first book of Herodotus. The name Red Sea moreover cannot be explained in terms of reeds, as is current fashion by biblical scholars, unable for ignorance of geology to provide the real explanation. Noticing first that the name applied to the whole Indian Ocean, the explanation follows from the fact that the frequent eruptions in Dancalia, the most unstable region in the world with also the highest concentration of volcanoes, about a hundred, resulted usually in islands of pumices floating over the ocean for weeks before going to the bottom of the sea. Now pumices, usually of grey colour, become red like blood when they pass through salted water, as shown by the sediments due to the Krakatoa eruption of circa 1880 AD, see Spedicato (2007 b, c). Now the Dancalian depression was covered by shallow salt water till not long ago, originating the present salt layers at its bottom. So we deem that the Indian Ocean was called Red Sea just for the phenomenon of floating blood red islands, that showed up there with a certain frequency. Hiram was said to be king also of the Puni, word that clearly relates to the word Panis, indicating the Indian navigators, possibly with reference to the region of the five rivers, Penjab now, Punt in ancient texts. The Panis were the most expert and far traveling navigators of the past. They had mastered the monsoons for fast reaching either of the Arabian-African coast or of the Indonesian-Australian one. Hence it is quite likely that the alphabet invention by Solomon was accepted and slowly diffused by the Panis. These navigators could reach Mediterranean either by circumnavigating Africa (names with an Indian origin are found in the east coast of Africa, but even Cameroon might mean not land of camarones, but land of the people from the Meru-Kailash…) or via Nile, that they reached from Safaga through the Wadi Hammamat, bringing boats in dismantled form (similar boats as still made now in the Laccadives with planks united by coconut fiber ropes). We think that the permanent presence of Panis-Puni along the Lebanon coast, namely in Tire and Sidon, should be explained by a donation by Solomon of a small part of his territory to persons that greatly helped him and were also probably connected with the Queen of Sheba. It is also natural to think that the people in Tire, where the largest library existed at the time of Alexander (burned by him like the imperial library in Persepolis, following his teacher Aristoteles, who collected and burned the books of Democritus), established such a library under his suggestion. And possibly the oldest historian of the western world, Sanchoniaton of Tire who may have lived at his time, was the first scholar to use alphabet to write a history, under Solomon’s invitation…
It is impossible not to deem the discovery of alphabet among the few highest intellectual achievements of humanity. So we may consider Solomon one of the very few top scholars of history, in the company of Newton, Von Neumann….
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