Previous post estimated the number of warhorses King Solomon owned along with citing the number of chariots in his kingdom.
Here are two of the texts used to make an estimate of some portions of his vast wealth:
2 Chronicles 1:14-17 (emphasis added for attention on specific valuations):
“Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue—the royal merchants purchased them from Kue at the current price. They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans. (NIV)
King Solomon, ruler from about 970 B.C. through 931 B.C., had both wealth and wisdom beyond compare.
One source (didn’t make note of it at the time and won’t bother looking for it again) suggested his wealth was in the range of $2.2 trillion dollars in current measurement. Yes, trillion, as in 1,000 billion.
His wisdom is described in 1 Kings 4:30-31:
“Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else… (NIV)
Since this blog ponders ancient finances, the next few posts will lightly touch on some indications of Solomon’s wealth. First Kings and Second Chronicles contain some indications of his wealth than can be quantified.
Number of horses and chariots
The texts contain references to the number of chariots and horses owned by King Solomon. First issue to ponder is a supposed conflict in text.
What was the price of a Viking sword at the time? How about expressing a price then in some unit of measure we can grasp today? I have looked on the ol’ net but haven’t found any good guesses. Previous post discussed one indicator that I couldn’t process.
Hurstwic website describes one sword that had a reported value. Chapter 13 of Laxdæla saga says a sword given to Höskuldur by King Hákon was worth a half mark of gold.
Charlemagne became king of the Franks in 768 A.D. and expanded his rule until he died in 814, according to Wikipedia. That puts the price in the timeframe of late 700s or very early 800s. This is in contrast to the Lex Rubuaia having first been written in around 630.
I tried to convert that 7 solidi into something we can relate to.
Short overview of the evolution of the means of exchange during Viking Era can be found in Viking Currency, an article by Dani Trynoski at Medievalists.net.
A basic economic concept to remember: part of the definition of money is a means of exchange and store of value. A silver armband, brooch, or coin can be both a store of value and means of exchange. Standard size silver coins are easier to work with on both criteria than jewelry.
A few pounds of silver is far easier to carry and use to buy stuff later than several dozen (?) furs, a dozen or two cows, or a few shiploads of grain.