Midrash Esther XIII-Solomon’s Throne
“On the throne of his kingdom.” Rabbi Cohen said in the name of Rabbi Azaria: The word, “his kingdom,” is written defectively: he wanted to sit on the throne of Solomon, but was not permitted. They said to him: “No king who is not ruler of the world can sit on it.” He thereupon made himself a throne of his own just like it. Hence it says, “On the throne of his kingdom,” the word, “his kingdom,” being written defectively.
What then was the greatness of that throne, of which it says, “Moreover the king Solomon made a great throne of ivory (II Chronicles 9:17)?” For Rabbi Acha observed: surely it is written, “now Ahab had 70 sons in Samaria (II Kings 10:1),” and Rabbi Hoshaia said that as Ahab had 70 sons in Samaria so he had 70 sons in Jezreel, and each son had two palaces, one for winter and one for summer, as it says, “and I will smite the winter house with the summer house (Amos 3:15),” while Rabbi Judah son of Rabbi Simon says said each of Ahab’s sons had four palaces, as it says, “and the houses of ivory shall perish.” The Rabbis say that each son had six palaces, as it says, “and the great houses shall have an end.” Here, regarding King Solomon, it simply says, “a great throne of ivory.” His ivory throne was much less than the ivory palaces of Ahab’s sons.
Rabbi Hoshaia Rabbah explained that Solomon’s throne was made like the Chariot of Him, at Whose word the world came into being, the Holy One, Blessed is He; and so it says, “there were six steps to the throne (II Chronicles 9:18),” six corresponding to the six firmaments. This constituted the greatness of Solomon’s throne.
But are there not seven firmaments? Rabbi Abun said: The one in which the King abides is specially reserved.
There were six corresponding to the six Earths; eretz,, adamah, arka, ge, Tziah, neshiah. There is also Tevel, but this is not counted because it is written, “And He will judge the world, Tevel, in righteousness (Psalms 9:9).” (Tevel is the habitation of man, which stands to the other side in the same relation as the highest firmament to the rest.)
There were six corresponding to the six orders of the Mishnah.
There were six corresponding to the six days of creation.
There were six corresponding to the six matriarchs; Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Bilha and Zilpah.
Rabbi Huna said: there were six steps corresponding to the six Commandments which the King was specially admonished to keep, as it is written, “He shall not multiply wives to himself.” “He shall not multiply horses to himself.” “Neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.” “You shall not wrest judgment.” “You shall not give extra respect to persons.” “Neither shall you take a gift.”
As King Solomon ascended the first of the six steps, the herald proclaimed, addressing him, “He shall not multiply wives to himself.” At the second step, the herald proclaimed, “He shall not multiply horses to himself.” At the third step the Herald proclaimed, “Neither shall be multiplied to himself silver and gold.” At the fourth, the herald proclaimed, “You shall not wrest judgment.” At the fifth, “You shall not give extra respect to certain people.” At the sixth, “You shall not take a gift.” Similarly it says, “And arms on either side by the place of the seat (II Chronicles).”
As Solomon went to take his seat, the Herald said to him: “know before you only use it; before Him at whose world at whose word the world came into being.”
It is related that when Solomon died, Shishak, king of Egypt, came up and took it from Israel.
Rabbi Samuel the son Nachman said: Shishak is the same as Pharaoh. And why was he called Shishak? Because he cameimpelled by greed against Israel, saying, “I am taking it in lieu of my daughter’s marriage settlement.” He made war with Zerah the Ethiopian, who took it from him. Then Asa made war with Zerah the Ethiopian and he conquered him and took the throne from him.
It has been taught: Asa and all the kings of Judah sat upon it, and when Nebuchadnezzar came up and sacked Jerusalem he carried it off to Babylon. From Babylon it was taken to Medea and from Medea to Greece, and from Greece to a Edom/Rome.
Rabbi Elazar the son of Rabbi Yosi said: I have seen its fragments in Rome.
Nebuchadnezar on it; Cyrus the Great sat on it; Achashveirosh wanted to sit on it, but was not permitted. They said to him: “no one who is not ruler over the whole world can sit on it.” He accordingly made one for himself which he paid for; hence it is written, “when the throne of his kingdom,” the word, “kingdom,” being written defectively.
“And the top of the throne was rounded behind (I Kings 10:19).” Rabbi Acha said: like an armchair with a footstool.
“And there were arms on either side.” As King Solomon ascended the first step, a lion stretched out an arm to him to lift him; at the second and an eagle stretched out an arm. “By the place of this seat,” so they received him.
By the seat itself there was a golden scepter behind, at the top of which was a dove with a golden crown in its mouth, so that the king should be seated on the throne with the golden crown just barely resting on his head.