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    John Lord, King Solomon, and Taxes

    May 13, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    We are still working our way through Lord’s Beacon Lights of History, Volume II: Jewish Heroes and Prophets by reading a little bit during Circle Time three or four mornings per week. {And can I just say that the magic never wears off of real leather books preserved with love for 80ish years?} The past few days we have been finishing up the chapter on King Solomon. My son is just fascinated by all of the details I would have considered mundane at his age: wars, building projects, political intrigue. He keeps me on my toes.

    Anyhow, thought I’d share a quote:

    To keep up this regal splendor, to support seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines on the fattest of the land, and deck them all in robes of purple and gold; to build magnificent palaces, to dig canals, and construct gigantic reservoirs for parks and gardens; to maintain a large standing army in time of peace; to erect strong fortresses wherever caravans were in danger of pillage; to found cities in the wilderness; to level mountains and fill up valleys,–to accomplish all this even the resources of Solomon were insufficient. What were six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, yearly received {thirty five million dollars}, besides the taxes on all merchants and travellers, and the vast gifts which flowed from kings and princes, when that constant drain on the royal treasury is considered! Even a Louis XIV. was impoverished by his court and palace building, though he controlled the fortunes of twenty five millions of people. King Solomon, in all his glory, became embarrassed, and was obliged to make forced contributions,–to levy a heavy tribute on his own subjects from Dan to Beersheba, and make bondmen of all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizites, Hivites, and Jebusites. The people were virtually enslaved to aggrandize a single person. The burdens laid on all classes and the excessive taxation at last alienated the nation. “The division of the whole country into twelve revenue districts was a serious grievance,–especially as the high official over each could make large profits from the excess of contributions demanded.” A poll tax, from which the nation in the olden times was freed, was levied on Israelite and Canaanite alike. The virtual slave-labor by which the great public improvements were made, sapped the loyalty of the people and produced discontent. This forced labor was as fatal as war to the real property of the nation, for wealth is ever based on private industry, on farms and vineyards, rather than on the palaces of kings. {emphasis mine}

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