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King Solomon

Solomon the Wanderer.
How King Solomon met his wife and regained his throne.

by Ilil Arbel, Ph.D.

After Asmodeus, king of the demons, had flung King Solomon in the air away from Jerusalem, the king found himself alone and unrecognized in a strange, far-off land. No one knew him, and as he tried to tell people he was the King of Israel, most people considered him a lunatic. Worse, Asmodeus now had Solomonís protective ring, so the king could not summon the help of beasts or spirits, and had to manage on his own. He decided to start walking back to Israel, hoping that God will restore him to his position when he finally reached his destination and confronted Asmodeus.

For three years he wandered from one strange land to another, eventually coming to places he started to recognize. He either begged for his living or did the occasional odd job, and slowly learned it was best never to tell anyone he was King Solomon. And he learned wisdom during his wanderings, and a new, more humble way of looking at the world. Some of his most famous proverbs were written on this painful road. For example, at one place he met a man who recognized him. The man was wealthy and respected, and Solomon was delighted to be invited to dinner. But throughout the meal, the insensitive rich man kept talking about the old splendors he remembered from King Solomonís court, commiserated with the kingís exile from such glory, and hinted that he doubted such happiness would ever return. The king was brought to tears over the memories and could not eat. He left the house of the rich man full of sorrow and doubt. The next day, another acquaintance met him -- a poor, humble man. All he could offer the king was a dish of greens, but he said the right things. He reminded the king that God had a pact with David, Solomonís father, promising that the royal house will live forever. And God never went back on His word. True, He was punishing the King now, but He really cared to punish only those He loved, so that they will learn and improve. And the poor man did not doubt that God would restore the king to his former glory. Solomon left his house renewed and happy, and wrote the famous proverb: "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."

And so it was. The time of his deliverance was approaching. A very special woman, the Princess Naamah, daughter of the Ammonite king, was destined by God to be the ancestress of the Messiah, who will some day be born as a descendent of the House of David. Therefore, God directed Solomon to the capital city of Ammon. It so happened that the cook at the royal palace needed an assistant, and somehow Solomon was at the right place at the right time and got the job. He showed talent and discipline, eventually was promoted to chief cook, and promptly met the Princess who took personal interest in running the household. And they fell in love.

The Ammonite king was furious, but nothing would persuade Naamah to part from Solomon. In the end the Ammonite king banished the couple to faraway, desert-like dunes. They wandered there for a long time, hungry and miserable, but finally reached a city not far from the sea. With the little money they had with them, Naamah bought a fish for their dinner. She opened the fish to clean it, and inside was a ring. Solomon looked at the ring, transfixed. This was his own protective magic ring, the one taken from him by Asmodeus. The demon obviously decided to throw it into the sea to get rid of it!

Solomon put the ring on his finger, and transported himself and his wife to Jerusalem, where Asmodeus masqueraded as the king for all these years. Wearing the magic ring, he faced the demon and commanded him to assume his true form and leave the palace. Asmodeus had no power to resist the ring, fled the palace, and Solomon returned to his former throne. But not without a price. The sight of Asmodeus in his true form was so incredibly hideous, that the king was terrified by nightmares for the rest of his life, and required his guard to watch his room every night. He also had to make himself known to his new father-in-law, the Ammonite king, which involved an unpleasant trial for the unjust banishing of the "cook" and his wife. But Solomon emerged from his own trials as a wiser and more humble man, and he and Naamah established the line that eventually will bring forth the Messiah.

Sources:
Midrashic legend.