ATA – Solomon’s wives and concubines

ataINQUIRY:
Did Solomon have 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1-3) or did he have 60 wives and 80 concubines (Song of Solomon 6:8)? Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Since 1 Kings 11 clearly states that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and is a historical record rather than a poetic text, we will take these to be the correct numbers. What shall we make of Song of Solomon 6:8? Here are a few considerations:

  • NOTE—the text mentions 60 queens, 80 concubines, & virgins without number.
  • Solomon did not go from 0 wives and 0 concubines to 700 and 300 respectively overnight. It is possible the numbers here are before he reached those totals.
  • The context in which these numbers are found extols Solomon’s one and only (6:4-7, 9-10). As such, it is odd to conclude that he has 60 additional wives, 80 additional slave wives, and a harem of virgins at his disposal. It is possible that these are not wives and concubines of Solomon, but women invited to the marriage between him and his true love. Notice in verse 9, these queens and concubines praise her.

Regardless whether it be one of these or some other explanation, there is no reason to conclude that a contradiction exists between 1 Kings 11:1-3 and Song of Solomon 6:8.


A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.

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