How old was Solomon when he became king?

Solomon crowned king 1

Q. My Sunday school curriculum said Solomon was 20 years old when he became king and God appeared to him in a dream. But when I did some research, it says his age is uncertain. Some say he was around 12 or 14 years old; some say he was at least 20 years old, or even close to 30. What age do you think he was?

A. The Bible did not say the age Solomon became king. Tradition said 12, while Josephus said 14. However, I doubt it was 12 or 14 based on the following:

1 Kg 11:42-43 Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. Then he rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.
• 1 Kg 14:21 Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, …
• 2 Chron 12:13 King Rehoboam established himself firmly in Jerusalem and continued as king. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, …

Rehoboam became king of Judah when his father Solomon died. If Solomon became king at the age of 12, and he reigned forty years, then he died at age 52. However, Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became king, which means that he was already one year old when Solomon became king 40 years earlier. He would therefore be born when Solomon was only 11 years old, and conceived when Solomon was 10! While people marry at an early age in those days, biologically it’s highly unlikely that a 10-year-old could father a child.

Outside of the Bible, according to the Talmud, while at age 13 a boy becomes a “son of the commandment” (Bar Mitzvah), the proper age for marriage is 18 (range between 16-24), and at age 20 should be earning a livelihood. If Solomon became king at 18-20, then fathering Rehoboam at 16-18 is a high possibility, and he died at around 58-60.

This would also fit 1 Kg 11:4 better: As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. The late 50s could be properly called “old” considering the life expectancies then, whereas to call the late 40s-early 50s “old” would be really stretching it.

This is not definitive, but more reasonable when all factors are taken into consideration. My opinion is therefore Solomon became king around 20.

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Comments

  • bohn4@swat.coop  On December 4, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    I’m proud of your logical thinking and reasoning concerning the question of King Solomon’s age when he ascended to the throne.

  • Enid  On January 23, 2018 at 3:31 am

    Amen!! This is reasonable and I agree, thank you for this enlightenment.

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