The Solomonic Districts

The districts of Solomon are twelve administrative (taxation) districts mentioned in 1 Kings 4, clearly reflecting the Iron IIB Israelite administrative districts (see Chronology page).

Here are the districts:

1-Ephraim, including the land of Shechem, probably as far as Gilboa.

2-Area ruled first by Israel, then Judah, then Ekron, stretching roughly from Ajalon to Beth-Shemesh, and perhaps as far as District 4 (though District 3 might have controlled this land). This shows this list must reflect Iron IIB (Joashite/Jeroboamite) Israelite rule, since Beth-Shemesh was not re-founded after Iron I until the early 8th C BC. Since Beth-Shean was given to Ekron soon after the campaign of Sennacherib, this list cannot reflect the days of Assyrian dominance.

3-Roughly from Jenin to Tul-Karm, and, probably, the Sharon. Arruboth is modern Araba. This is the best agricultural land in the land of Samaria.

4-If Dor was a Phoenician city-state, then this province would only include the foothills of Carmel.

5-The Jezreel and Beth-Shean valleys. The probable district capital was Megiddo, which was extremely well-fortified at this time.

6-Transjordan north of the road leading by Pella to Ramoth-Gilead.

7-Transjordan south of the road leading by Pella to Ramoth-Gilead.

8-Galilee, probably as far as Dan.

9-The land bordering Phoenicia.

10-The plateau north of the Beth-Shean valley.

11-Benjamin. This was either ruled from Bethel or Mizpah (if Israel took it during the conquest of Beth-Shemesh).

12-Ashtaroth and its land, which is that around the Yarmuk. This was conquered by Israel either by Joash or, more probably, Jeroboam II.

Samaria was near the border of districts 1 and 3. District 2 was likely captured during the Battle of Beth-Shemesh (2 Kings 14) in which Israel established a decisive victory over Judah and annexed it as a vassal state. Zebulun (Lower Galilee) was annexed to either District 8 or 9, probably the latter (cf. Tiglath-Pileser campaign). Needless to say, Israel was a kingdom, not a coalition of tribes, and had no function for an independent Zebulun, although Benjamin might have, if Judah controlled Mizpah, been put in a separate district for tribal, rather than geographic reasons. The districts’ borders were also clearly established on the basis of ease of control rather than equality in economic output, for Galilee and Issachar were clearly distinct in their economic output.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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