Greater than Solomon

In Matthew 12:38-42 Jesus compares himself to two Old Testament figures – Jonah and Solomon. In both cases he indicates that "one greater than" either of these individuals is now present and active among the people of God.[1] It seems apparent from Matthew’s arrangement of the gospel materials[2] that the choice of these particular individuals for comparison is connected to the response of Gentiles to their messages, the people of Nineveh in the case of Jonah (Jonah 3), and the Queen of Sheba in Solomon’s case (1 Kings 10:1-3; 2 Chronicles 9:1-2). Neither Solomon nor Jonah did any great "sign" to command such response to God’s word. Yet, in contrast the Pharisees, who pride themselves in being people of God, demand of Jesus, who claims to be "greater than" Jonah or Solomon, some "sign" (Matthew 12:38) to vindicate the claims which he is making and justify their belief in his message. But in what sense exactly is Jesus in the Matthean[3] context claiming wisdom[4] such that "one greater than Solomon is here."

David Hill [5] in his commentary on Matthew’s Gospel is somewhat typical of treatments of this passage in that a great amount of attention is given to the "sign of Jonah" and defining the way in which "something greater than Jonah" is present. However, once the reference to "Solomon’s wisdom" (vs.42) is mentioned, its seems to be assumed that readers will understand that "the one greater than Solomon" must be greater in terms of "wisdom". Yet, this begs the question of the content of that wisdom.

When Gundry [6] comes to comment on this text, considerable discussion is given to establishing what the "sign of Jonah" refers to. However, apart from asserting that "the greater than Jonah and Solomon is Jesus" [7] , he says nothing about the nature of Solomon’s wisdom or in what precise way Jesus is "greater than Solomon". Hagner [8] will go so far as to say that Jesus "is the incarnation of wisdom (cf. 11.19)", thereby presuming that the reader will know the nature of this wisdom and how Jesus expresses it. If we turn to Carson [9] , we discover that "Jesus is ‘something greater’.than Solomon; Jesus is the Messiah, who will introduce the promised eschatological age." But again, there is no attempt made to interpret the nature of Solomon’s wisdom, which seems to be the primary point of comparison between Jesus and Solomon. Even Burnett’s article on "Wisdom" in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels [10] merely states that "the ‘something greater’ than the preaching of Jonah and the wisdom of Solomon, then, seems to be Jesus’ message." [11] Presuming that Jesus is speaking of himself in these expressions, what is the wisdom which he brings and which declares him to be greater than Solomon? Is it possible to be more precise in terms of understanding the specifics of this comparison? Is it possible to define the nature of this ‘wisdom’, particularly in light of the overall context of Matthew 12?

In Jewish writings of first and second centuries BCE and CE the nature of Solomon’s wisdom receives rather specific attention. In several cases this wisdom enables individuals (including Solomon himself) to exercise extraordinarily effective control over the demonic realm. Given the immediate context of the discussion about Solomon’s wisdom and Jesus’ relationship to it in Matthew 12, particularly the Beelzebub controversy and the exorcism which stimulates it, there seem to be grounds for suggesting that the wisdom which Jesus demonstrates, so that he is "greater than Solomon", in fact refers primarily to Jesus’ control over Satan’s kingdom in the exorcism of demons. [12] It may also have reference to the ability which Jesus exercises in healing, sometimes connected with the expulsion of a demon in Matthew’s account. [13]

Evidence from various second temple period documents indicates a portion of Judaism at least believed that Solomon’s special wisdom enabled him to control evil spirits. The first hint of this may come when the Greek translator of 1 Kings 4:29-34 [14] states that the number of songs Solomon wrote numbered 5000, in distinction from the 1005 claimed by the Massoretic Text. When Josephus retells the story of Solomon in his Antiquities (8:45,47), he increases Solomon’s production exponentially by claiming that he composed 3000 "books" of proverbs and 1005 "books" of songs. In addition, Josephus claims that Solomon created "incantations" (ejpw/dav") and "forms of exorcisms" (trovpou" ejxorkwvsewn).

Chapter 7 of the Wisdom of Solomon recounts Solomon’s request to God for wisdom (cf. 1 Kings 3) and God’s response. Solomon says:

For it was he who gave me unerring knowledge of existent being,
to know the structure of the universe and the operation of the elements;
the beginning, and end, and middle of times,
the changes of the solstices and the vicissitudes of the seasons;
the cycles of years and the positions of the stars;
the natures of living creatures and the tempers of beasts;
the violent force of spirits and the reasonings of men;
the species of plants, and the virtues of roots. (7:17-20) [15]

Solomon’s expertise is connected with "the full range of human science and philosophy (i.e. ontology, cosmology, physics, astronomy, biology, botany, esoteric knowledge)." [16] But within this list we discover that he had special knowledge of "the violent force of spirits" (pneumavtwn biva"). Some debate occurs as to whether "spirits" should in fact be translated "winds". Winston argues that the translation "spirits" seems to be required by "the structure of the verse." [17] The stich prior talks of ‘living creatures" and "beasts"; the one which follows mentions "plants" and "roots’. In other words similar things are paired together. It would seem odd to have "winds" and "men" connected. Linking "spirits" with "men" (i.e. human beings) would seem more appropriate to the parallelism. Solomon’s wisdom, then, would include knowledge about "the violent force of spirits", presumably evil spirits. His insights into the "virtues of roots" may have a medicinal focus, as well as be related to exorcism rituals which also used certain herbal materials.

The date at which Wisdom of Solomon was composed is greatly disputed. Proposals range from 150 BCE to 50 CE. Winston [18] argues on the basis of lexical data and content that it "cannot be earlier than the Augustan age and that very likely (though by no means decisively) it was written in the first half of the first century CE." An Egyptian provenance is also generally accepted. Even if the hypothesis of a first century CE origin is correct and Wisdom of Solomon was not composed prior to the ministry of Jesus and represents Egyptian Judaism, it still testifies to the way in which Solomon’s wisdom was being construed in that general time period by some segments of Judaism, albeit diaspora Judaism.

There is some evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls that Solomon’s name is linked with control of demons within the Qumran community. Van der Ploeg published fragments (11QPsAp [LP1] a) which contained several apocryphal psalms, as well as an unusual form of Psalm 91(128-139). [19] In column 1 van der Ploeg reads the name "Solomon", followed in the next line by the word used in Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalm 106:37 to refer to demons (hshdim). It is his judgment that the appearance of Solomon’s name in this context supports Josephus’ description of Solomon’s involvement with the demonic. If van der Ploeg’s analysis is correct, then such a text shows that Solomon’s name within the Qumran community was linked with the authority needed to control demonic activity. If this is a correct deduction, then we possess a specific, Palestinian example of Solomon’s name being used in exorcistic activity in the century just prior to Jesus’ activity.

In Josephus’ narration of Solomon’s reign in the Antiquities he says that "God granted him [Solomon] knowledge of the art used against demons for the benefit and healing of men. He also composed incantations by which illnesses are relieved, and left behind forms of exorcisms with which those possessed by demons drive them out, never to return." [20] Josephus links Solomon with the power to exorcise demons, as well as the creation of effective rituals, including incantations. This is not just mythology for Josephus. He illustrates this by means of a contemporary event which he personally witnessed.

He tells the story of Eleazar [21] , the Jewish exorcist, who appeals successfully to Solomon’s name and knowledge during an exorcism conducted in the very presence of Vespasian, the Roman emperor:

God granted him [Solomon] knowledge of the art used against demons for the benefit and healing of men. He also composed incantations by which illnesses are relieved, and left behind forms of exorcisms with which those possessed by demons drive them out, never to return. And this kind of cure is of very great power among us to this day, for I have seen a certain Eleazar, a countryman of mine, in the presence of Vespasian, his sons, tribunes and a number of other soldiers, free men possessed by demons, and this was the manner of the cure: he put to the nose of the possessed man a ring which had under its seal one of the roots [22] prescribed by Solomon, and then, as the man smelled it, drew out the demon through his nostrils, and, when the man at once fell down, adjured the demon never to come back to him, speaking Solomon’s name and reciting the incantations which he [Solomon] had composed. Then wishing to convince the bystanders and prove to them that he had this power, Eleazar placed a cup or footbasin full of water a little way off and commanded the demon, as it went out of the man, to overturn it and make known to the spectators that he had left the man. And when this was done, the understanding and wisdom of Solomon were clearly revealed, on account of which we have been induced to speak of these things.. [23]

The many songs and proverbs which Solomon is said to have composed (1 Kings 4:29-34) contained, in Josephus’ opinion, the spells and authoritative words necessary for the demonic control. His understanding of the healing power of various herbs provided Israel with special knowledge in the art of healing as well.

Josephus composed the Antiquities between 90 and 100 C.E., but the event which he narrates about Eleazar must have occurred during the Jewish war, i.e. 66-70 C.E., and specifically when Vespasian was leading the Roman troops in Palestine (67-68 C.E.). Given Josephus’ general historical reliability, we have in this account very credible evidence that links Solomon’s name both as an authority to appeal to in exorcism as well as the source for many effective incantations for exorcism in the first part of the first century C.E. and only three or four decades after the death of Jesus.

Three other types of evidence have indirect bearing upon this question. First, we note that in the Magical Papyri Solomon is frequently referred to as a powerful authority in the incantations. While these texts date to the third century A.D. and were found in Egypt, they may reflect earlier traditions. Deissmann, citing the text of the Paris Magical Papyrus, translates lines 46ff:

For I adjure thee by the seal which Solomon laid upon the tongue of Jeremiah and he spake. [24]

The text is not attributed to Jewish or Christian sources, but certainly shows Jewish affiliations. It demonstrates the continuing connections made between Solomon and demonic control. [25]

Secondly, the Testament of Solomon is the most explicit document expressing Solomon’s effective control over demons and his loss of that power because of his disobedience to God. [26] As Solomon constructs the temple, he subdues the demons and forces them to assist in the building process. A great variety of demons, male and female, are identified, named, and controlled by Solomon. [27] His basic power is exercised through a ring. This document is thought to reflect "first century Judaism in Palestine." [28] The document begins:

Testament of Solomon, Son of David, who reigned in Jerusalem, and subdued all the spirits of the air, of the earth, and under the earth; through (them) he also accomplished all the magnificent works of the Temple; (this tells) what their authorities are against men and by what angels these demons are thwarted. [29]

We note also the specific identification of Solomon as "Son of David" in this document.

Finally, for sake of completeness, we mention the Aramaic incantation texts (ca. 600 C.E.) from Iraq and Iran which refer repeatedly to the seal of Solomon and its effectiveness in controlling demons. [30] The texts found on these magical bowls state:

charmed and sealed in all evil that is in the body of Mihrhormizd b.M. (8) and in his house [and] his wife and his sons and his daughters and his cattle and his property and in all his dwelling, by the signet of Arion son of Zand and by the seal of King Solomon son of David, by which were sealed the Oppressors and the Latbe. [31]

The tradition about Solomon’s ring and its magical powers is much older than the 6th or 7th century C.E. (as Josephus illustrates), but it has considerable staying power. [32]

We return then to Matthew 12:42 where Matthew records Jesus as claiming that "one greater than Solomon was here." Is it not probable, given the identity of Solomon’s name with exorcism and miraculous healings in first century Jewish tradition, that Jesus’ primary reason for comparing himself to Solomon lies in this aspect of divine power? Could Jesus be claiming in fact that he is "greater than Solomon" precisely because he casts out evil spirits without any need for special incantations or herbal remedies, but merely by the authority of his own word? Is the "wisdom" which Jesus brings the eschatological authority and power of God himself engaged in direct contest with the forces of Satan? The context of Matthew 12:38-42 certainly would support such a conclusion.

This section of Matthew (11:2-13:58) demonstrates the growing rejection by Israel of Jesus’ claims. Chapter 11 begins with John the Baptist questioning whether or not "Jesus is the one to come or should they wait expectantly for another?" (11:3) Jesus responds by paraphrasing Isaiah 61:1 as the prophetic description fulfilled by his own activity. John himself is identified as the one Malachi prophesied would come, the resurrected Elijah (Malachi 3:1 = Matthew 11:10; cf. also 11:14; Matthew 11:10 also is verbatim quotation of the Septuagint text of Exodus 23:20. In this text the messenger is God’s angel who leads Israel into Canaan.). Yet, according to Jesus Israel thought John "has a demon" (vs.18) and thus rejects his message. Conversely, they reject Jesus because he acts in ways presumed improper for a prophet, associating with sinners and tax-collectors!

The theme of rejection is heightened as Jesus condemns the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. They have seen his miracles and heard his preaching, but have not repented (11:20-24). The ancient, Gentile centres of iniquity, Sodom and Gomorrah, given the same chance as these Jewish cities, would have repented long ago! The comparison of Israel’s response to that of non-Jews prepares us for the references to the people in Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba in 12:38-42. Matthew then records the conspiracy which the Pharisees instigate in order to kill Jesus, the ultimate form of rejection, because of his actions in healing on the Sabbath (12:1-14). Jesus’ claim that "one greater than the temple is here" (12:6,8) introduces the concept of comparison, which ultimately includes priestly (temple), prophetic (Jonah) and kingly (Solomon) precursors. [33] We discover that Jesus’ ministry of healing and exorcisms expands, such that the crowds, observing Jesus’ skill in exorcism, wonder "Is not this person the son of David?"(12:23) [34] But the Pharisees respond with the accusation "This man does not cast out demons except by Beelzeboul, prince of demons!"(12:24). Jesus warns them that they will be held accountable by God for such statements (12:37).

Perhaps in an attempt to settle the question of Jesus’ authority once and for all, some of the Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign (12:38). Jesus responds by accusing them of being a "wicked and adulterous generation", contrasting them with the Ninevites who needed no special sign other than the presence of God’s prophet to respond to Jonah’s proclamation of imminent judgment (11:39-41). Similarly the Gentile Queen of Sheba will condemn the generation of Jesus’ day because she acknowledged the awesome wisdom of Solomon and now "one greater than Solomon is here" (12:42).

Again Jesus warns the religious leaders that his coming presents Israel with a unique opportunity. Jesus’ special, divine power is sweeping away the effects of evil, but if people do not respond and accept his teaching with repentance, then the evil one will return with greater and more devastating effect, because they reject God’s help and power (12:43-45). The section concludes with Jesus urging them all to become part of his great family by doing the will of God (12:46-50) and embracing his wonderful message.

Throughout this section Matthew defines the activity of Jesus in terms of miracles of healing and exorcism. Yet despite all that Jesus does in Israel, rejection according to Matthew is the primary response. As "son of David" the crowds acclaim him, yet this recognition as the new Solomon does not carry the day, particularly among the religious leaders. They refuse to admit that "one greater than Solomon" has come among them and that his greatness is demonstrated particularly by his ability to control the demons. They will not accept the truth of Jesus’ parable that he is the thief who has entered the strong man’s house, bound him and is robbing him (12:29).

The particular greatness of Jesus’ wisdom and power is represented in three special segments in this larger section of Matthew. [35] We have already noted Jesus’ paraphrase of Isaiah 35:5-6 and 61:1ff in Matthew 11:5. The special prophetic promises of Isaiah, Jesus claims, are being fulfilled in his actions and words. Salvation is being realized through Jesus himself and no one else. His greatness is being defined in terms of the special servant God promised, the Messiah of God. A second segment occurs in Matthew 11:25-30. While there are many elements in these texts worthy of comment, that which receives our attention here is the unique relation of Jesus to God in terms of revelation. "All things have been given to me by my father and no one knows the son except the father, nor does anyone know the father except the son and to whomever the son wishes to reveal [him]"(11:27). Just as Solomon received special wisdom and revelation from God (1 Kings 3), so too does Jesus. [36] Yet Jesus’ knowledge is far greater because his knowledge enables people to know God and enter into relationship with God. Unfortunately, Jesus says, this understanding escapes the wise in this world. But all is not lost, because the "children" are the happy recipients of God’s revelation. So Jesus is held up by Matthew as unique because of the special Father-Son relationship he has with God, the special revelation which God grants to him, and finally, although we have not discussed it, the special blessing which Jesus grants to those who will accept his teachings (his easy, light "yoke").

Finally, there are Matthew’s own comments, following his pattern of fulfillment statements (12:15-21), as he concludes that Jesus’ words and deeds fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy about God’s servant (Isaiah 42:1-4). Much speculation swirls around this text, the longest Old Testament quotation in Matthew and one which he may have translated directly from the Hebrew text or else adapted specifically for this context. As part of the first so-called "Servant Song" in Isaiah, this passage points to the behaviour of the servant as unobtrusive, quiet, compassionate, and peace-seeking. Such an approach typically was not that expected of the Messiah (cf. Psalm of Solomon 17-18), who conversely would enter the scene with triumphant display, aggressive action against wickedness and the authoritative command of a king. Matthew’s purpose is to demonstrate that Jesus’ messianic process is exactly as God ordained and prophesied. He is "greater than Solomon", even though he does not exercise at this point the prerogatives of an earthly king. God’s approval rests upon him (11:18) and God’s Spirit is placed upon him. He will "lead justice to victory"(12:20) and the Gentiles will not place their hopes in him in vain.

Unusual and unexpected though Jesus’ method of messianic ministry may be, it still is no less the way God has sent him and the kind of spiritual invasion which God has ordained.

All three of these segments contribute to our understanding of how Jesus is greater than Solomon. Two of these passages build upon explicit Old Testament prophetic texts (Isaiah 42:1-4; 61:1ff), often viewed as messianic in significance. The other reveals Jesus’ self-understanding of his relationship to God and the extraordinary authority and revelation which God has granted to him. Each in its own way fills out the picture of how Jesus is greater than Solomon.

But it is also necessary to remember that the overt reference to Solomon in Matthew’s record of Jesus’ teaching occurs specifically in the setting where his authority over evil spirits is especially stressed. Such placement should not be ignored in our interpretation of this greatness, particularly when we know from Jewish sources in the first century that Solomon’s reputation ranked high because of the effectiveness of his remedies for exorcism and healing.

Perhaps one other piece of evidence should also be considered. Matthew’s Gospel more than any of the other Gospels describes Jesus as "son of David." It begins in 1:1 as Matthew introduces his story as centering upon "Jesus Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham." Joseph, the husband of Mary and protector is also introduced as "son of David" (1:20). In 9:27-31 two blind men appeal to Jesus as "son of David" to exercise mercy and heal their affliction. Jesus’ action to heal a demon-possessed blind and mute man, cause the observant crowd to exclaim, "could this be the son of David?" (12:22-23) The Syro-Phoenician women (15:21-28) appeals to "the son of David" to heal her demon-possessed daughter. Finally in 20:29-34, as Jesus is about to leave Jericho, two blind men cry to him for mercy as "the son of David" and he restores their sight. Then as Jesus enters Jerusalem, the crowds and children cry out "Hosanna to the son of David"(21:9,15). The literal son of David was of course Solomon. Why do these people appeal to Jesus as "son of David" in their petitions for his help and healing? Do they in some sense know the traditions concerning Solomon’s power and recognize that, if he is messianic in some sense, Jesus must possess this same power, but perhaps to an even greater degree? By the title "son of David" are they in fact appealing to the "new Solomon" who is really much greater than Solomon? Given that in several of these situations exorcisms are linked with the restoration to wholeness, perhaps this is not improbable.

We have sought to link the first century, Jewish traditions about Solomon and his extraordinary powers over evil spirits (and disease), to Jesus’ claim that one "greater than Solomon is here" and to show how Matthew wants his readers to understand one aspect of Jesus’ greatness. The tradition certainly existed in Palestine during the time of Jesus and seems to be well known among elements of diaspora Judaism, particularly in Egypt. Matthew does place this comparison in a context replete with references to evil spirits and exorcism. Jesus is acclaimed as "son of David" by those who seek his help for healing and release from demons. The comparatively quiet nature of Jesus’ messianic progress is affirmed as precisely the method which God ordained prophetically that the Messiah should follow. And so, even though religious experts doubt Jesus’ legitimacy, this does not at all affect his authority, power or role as Messiah. Those who have faith will truly see him as Messiah, Son of God and victor over evil spirits, the one "greater than Solomon." 



  1. [1] Cf. Matthew 12:6 where Jesus claims that "one greater than the temple is here."
  2. [2] The author of this gospel seems to contrast in this section of his narrative the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish leaders (cf. 11:16-24; 12:1-14, 24-28) with the acceptance by Gentiles of God’s wisdom expressed through earlier Jewish kings and prophets. His quotation of Isaiah 42:1-4 (Matthew 12:15-21) and its conclusion that "in his [the servant’s] name the nations will put their hope" reinforces this unexpected outcome.
  3. [3] The Lukan parallel is 11:29-32.
  4. [4] Wisdom is a characteristic of the Messiah. Isaiah 11:1-2 prophecies that "a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse….The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding." Similar announcements are made in the Psalms of Solomon 17:29: "He shall judge peoples and nations in the wisdom of his righteousness" and also, perhaps with reference back to passages such as Isaiah 11:1-2, Psalms of Solomon 17:37: " For God will make him mighty by means of (His) holy spirit, And wise by means of the spirit of understanding, with strength and righteousness."
  5. [5] David Hill, The Gospel of Matthew. New Century Bible (Greenwood, S.C.; The Attic Press, Inc., 1975), 221.
  6. [6] Robert Gundry, Matthew. A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.,1981), 243-46.
  7. [7] Ibid., 246.
  8. [8] Donald A. Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary. Volume 33A. Matthew 1-13 (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, 1993), 355.
  9. [9] D.A.Carson, Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Volume 8. Matthew (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 297.
  10. [10] F.W. Burnett, "Wisdom", in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, & I.Howard Marshall (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 874.
  11. [11] Douglas Hare in his commentary (Matthew. Interpretation. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1993) gives no comment on this issue. No specific definition of the nature of this wisdom is provided by David Harrington in his commentary (The Gospel of Matthew. Sacra Pagina Series Vol. 1. Collegeville, Minn: The Liturgical Press, 1991). Similar silence is found in Richard Gardner’s Matthew (Believers’ Church Bible Commentary. Scottsdale, Penn: Herald Press, 1991) and Eduard Schwiezer’s The Good News According to Matthew (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975).
  12. [12] In Matthew 13:54 the people of Nazareth ask a similar question: "From whence does this man get this wisdom and do these miracles?" No definition of Jesus’ ‘wisdom’ is given by Matthew at this point but it seems connected to the normal content of his preaching and teaching, such as Matthew characterizes in 4:23, along with his miracles and exorcisms. The nature of Jesus’ teaching in contrast with his humble origins is too great and they are ‘scandalized’ at his presentation.
  13. [13] "Jesus was called the Son of David when, like Solomon, he cast our demons (TSol prologue)." This is George Buchanan’s comment in The Gospel of Matthew (Mellon Biblical Commentary, Lewiston: Mellon Biblical Press, Vol. 1, 1996, page 542).
  14. [14] The corresponding text in the Septuagint is 3 Reigns 4:12: "And Solomon spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs were five thousand."
  15. [15] David Winston, The Wisdom of Solomon. The Anchor Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1979), 172.
  16. [16] Ibid.
  17. [17] Ibid., 175-76.
  18. [18] Ibid., 22-23.
  19. [19] J.P.M. van der Ploeg, "Un Petit rouleau de Psaumes Apocryphes," in Tradition und Glaube, Festgabe fur Karl Georg Kuhn zum 65, Geburtstag (Göttingen; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1971), 128-139.
  20. [20] Antiquities, 8,44-45.
  21. [21] Ibid., 8,46-48.
  22. [22] The reference to the roots of certain plants may be explained by Josephus’ description in the Jewish Wars 7, 180ff of the baaras plant. "For the so-called demons – in other words, spirits of wicked men which enter the living and kill them unless aid is forthcoming – are promptly expelled by this root, if merely applied to the patients."
  23. [23] Antiquities 8,46-48
  24. [24] Adolf Deissmann, Light from the Ancient Past (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1978, repr. ), 261. A similar text from Hadrumentum, North Africa, third century, is quoted and translated in Deissmann’s Bible Studies (Winona Lake, Ind.: Alpha Publications, 1979, repr.), 274-279.
  25. [25] Translation and commentary on this text will also be found in C.K. Barrett, The New Testament Background: Selected Documents (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), 31-35. His comment on line 34 is: "Solomon enjoyed great repute as an exorcist and his seal was well known; but the connection with Jeremiah does not seem to be attested elsewhere."
  26. [26] Testament of Solomon, Translation and Introduction by D.C. Duling, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Volume One Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments, ed. by James Charlesworth (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1983), 934-987. This is an excellent introduction to and translation of this document.
  27. [27] Apocalypse of Adam, Translation and Introduction by G. McRae, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Volume 1 Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments, ed. by James Charlesworth (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1983), 707-719 mentions Solomon’s power over the demonic realm in section 7:13.
  28. Solomon also sent his army of demons to seek the virgin. And they did not find the one they sought, but the virgin who was given to them was the one they fetched. Solomon took her. The virgin conceived and gave birth to the child there. She nourished him on a border of the desert. When he had been nourished, He received glory and power from the seed from which he had been begotten. And thus he came to the water.
  29. The Apocalypse of Adam is a gnostic document written in Coptic and dated somewhere between the second and fourth centuries of this era. It is one of the documents found near Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1946. The reference to Solomon’s control over demonic elements indicates how widespread this concept was in Jewish-Christian sources during the first few centuries of this era.
  30. [28] Ibid., 942. Duling suggests a date of third century A.D. as perhaps the best probability for dating this ‘Testament’.
  31. [29] Ibid., 960. There may be reference to Solomon’s use of demons to build the temple in the Gnostic treatise The Testimony of Truth in The Nag Hammadi Library in English, gen. Ed. James Robinson (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), 406-416:and his son Solomon, whom he begat in [adultery], is the one who built Jerusalem by means of the demons, because he received [their powers].
  32. Robinson, page 415. The presence of this tradition in the Gnostic literature is another indication if its vitality and wide dissemination.
  33. [30] Loren R. Fisher, "Can This be the Son of David?", in Jesus and the Historian Written in Honor of Ernest Cadman Colwell, ed. By F.T. Trotter (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1968), 82-97.
  34. [31] Ibid., 84.
  35. [32] We might add to these sources the Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo (cf. Howard Jacobson, A Commentary on Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum With Latin Text and English Translation. Vol. 1 & 2. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996) which usually is placed in Palestine, roughly contemporary with Josephus. When the author (chapter 60, section 3) describes King Saul’s malady and David’s involvement in bringing him relief, David sings a song. It is in effect an incantation and the last part of this song seems to prophecy a progeny which shall have power over evil spirits:(1)….Saul sent and brought David and he played a song on his lyre by night. This is the song he played for Saul so that the evil spirit would depart from him. (2)…."After this was the tribe of your spirits made. (3) Now do not be troublesome, since you are a secondary creation. Otherwise, remember Tartarus wherein you walk….Or do you not remember that your brood was created from an echo in the abyss? But the new womb, from which I was born, will rebuke you, from which in time one will be born from my loins and will rule over you." The one referred to in this sentence ("one will be born from my loins") could be construed as Solomon. Jacobson comments that "the commentators are split as to whether this refers to Solomon, who was famous for his power over demons,…or to a Messianic figure (though LAB in general has little interest in the Messiah), who is sometimes said to conquer evil spirits (e.g. Test.Levi 18.12, I En 69.28)" (page 1180). Dennis Duling, "Solomon, Exorcism and the Son of David", Harvard Theological Review 68(1975):240 reviews much of this evidence relating to Solomon’s connection to demonic control.
  36. [33] Jesus has already used comparative language in defining John’s significance in 11:11. If o* mikroVtero" in this text is also a hidden reference to Jesus, then Jesus consciously compares himself to John, as one who is greater than John.
  37. [34] J.H.Charlesworth in "The Son of David: Solomon and Jesus (Mark 10.47)", published in The New Testament and Hellenistic Judaism, ed. by Peder Borgen and Soren Giversen (Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press, 1995), 72-87 explores the data which might link the name of Solomon with healing in pre-70 Jewish literature. He concludes that "as far as I know there is no reference to Solomon as "healer" in the Jewish pre-70 Jewish pseudepigrapha, nor in the Old Testament Apocrypha, Philo, or Josephus."(83). In commenting upon Matthew 12:22-23 he states: Matthew’ [sic] text will not allow us to conclude that the crowd thought Jesus was to be seen in terms of Solomon; but, it may indicate that "the Son of David" as healer and one who could exorcize a blind man and enable him to see was a concept accepted as possible by first-century Palestinian Jews. (84) If the reference to Solomon in Matthew 12:42 is original to Jesus, then Jesus himself was encouraging people to compare him to Solomon. The writer of Matthew’s gospel, by placing the reference to Solomon and the question about "Son of David" in the same context, encourages his readers to draw the conclusion that the title "Son of David" is at one level a Solomonic connection. I am indebted to Dr. Craig Evans for referring me to this article.
  38. [35] Russell Pregeant. "Wisdom Passages in Matthew" in Treasures New and Old. Recent Contributions to Matthean Studies. David R. Bauer and Mark A. Powell, eds. Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1996.
  39. [36] In the Davidic covenant recorded in 2 Samuel 7:14 God promises to David that He will provide offspring for him. In addition, God says that "I will be to him for a father and he will be to me for a son…." Rahlfs edition of the Septuagint has the following translation: "e*gwV e!somai au*tw/’ ei*" patevra, kaiV au*toV" e!stai moi ei*" ui&ovn." Jesus’ use of this father – son language is reminiscent of the Davidic covenant. Perhaps Matthew uses this logion and its father – son language to emphasize in an additional way the David – Solomon connection with Jesus.