Did You Know?
Why were the Jews so widely scattered by the time of Jesus?
When Jesus told a group of listeners that where he was going they could not come, the Jews asked themselves: “Where does this man intend going . . . ? He does not intend to go to the Jews dispersed among the Greeks . . . does he?” (John 7:32-36) Not long after, Christian missionaries preached the good news among Jews dispersed throughout the Mediterranean basin.—Acts 2:5-11; 9:2; 13:5, 13, 14; 14:1; 16:1-3; 17:1; 18:12, 19; 28:16, 17.
This dispersion, or Diaspora, arose because the Jews were exiled from their homeland by conquering nations—first by the Assyrians, in 740 B.C.E., then by the Babylonians, in 607 B.C.E. Only a remnant of the exiles ever returned to Israel. (Isaiah 10:21, 22) The rest remained scattered.
Hence, in the fifth century B.C.E., Jewish communities were found in the 127 jurisdictional districts of the Persian Empire. (Esther 1:1; 3:8) Jewish efforts to win converts to Judaism meant that, in time, a large number of people came to have some knowledge of Jehovah and of the Law that he gave to the Jews. (Matthew 23:15) Jews from many lands were present in Jerusalem for the Festival of Pentecost in 33 C.E., at which they heard the good news about Jesus. Therefore, the dispersion of Jews throughout the Roman Empire contributed to the rapid spread of Christianity.
How much gold did King Solomon own?
The Scriptures say that Hiram, king of Tyre, sent four tons [4 t] of gold to Solomon, the queen of Sheba gave him a similar amount, and Solomon’s fleet brought over 15 tons [14 t] of gold from Ophir. “The weight of the gold that came to Solomon in one year,” says the account, “amounted up to six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold,” or more than 25 tons [22 t]. (1 Kings 9:14, 28; 10:10, 14) Is this plausible? How big were royal gold reserves in antiquity?
An ancient inscription, which scholars judge as credible, states that Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt (second millennium B.C.E.) presented some 13.5 tons [12 t] of gold to the temple of Amun-Ra at Karnak. During the eighth century B.C.E., the Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser III received over 4 tons [4 t] of gold in tribute from Tyre, and Sargon II gave the same amount of gold as a gift to the gods of Babylon. King Philip II of Macedonia (359-336 B.C.E.) is reported to have extracted more than 28 tons [25 t] of gold each year from the mines of Pangaeum in Thrace.
When Philip’s son Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.E.) captured the Persian city of Susa, he is said to have taken some 1,180 tons [1,070 t] of gold from it and almost 7,000 tons [more than 6,000 t] from the whole of Persia. So when compared with these reports, the Bible’s description of King Solomon’s gold is not exaggerated.