David fought wars and subdued foreign powers who threatened Israel. Solomon used his position of strength and influence to form alliances with the nations and secure peace with international powers through arranged marriages. The marriages locally and internationally were created for economic and political benefit of the family, the clan, the tribe or the nation. Deuteronomy 7:3 forbid this practice because it suggested compromise and alliance with nations that possibly God was not blessing due to their pagan worship or unjust culture. Nevertheless, this was a very common part of diplomacy at this time in the Near East.
It is a very impressive statement that Solomon had one of the daughters of pharaoh in Jerusalem as his wife! Israel must have been a world power and Solomon had surely impressed Egypt because the daughters of the pharaoh were rarely given in marriage and, if they were, they went to the imperial powers and not to local chieftains or wannabe players in the international game. Solomon was indeed a power to be reckoned with militarily and economically as can be attested by this simple statement in 1 Kings 3:1:
“Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the Lord.”
The Pharaoh, Solomon’s father-in-law, would have been either Siamun or Psusennes II the last kings of the 21st dynasty that was overthrown by Shishak (1 Kings 11:40; 14:25-26) of the 22nd dynasty. The city of Gezer was a dowry gift from Pharaoh to Solomon at the time of his marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter. The city had been burned and taken from the Canaanites by Egypt to help opened up and secured strategic trade routes for Egypt:
“Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He had set it on fire. He killed its Canaanite inhabitants and then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon’s wife.” – 1 Kings 9:16
Solomon also brought in other woman from other nations as assurances of peace treaties and trade agreements which included many nations that God was not pleased with: Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and Hatti from Anatolia.
The wives were not God-fearers or worshippers of YHWH, but were instead followers of their pagan cultures, false gods and corrupt philosophies which were not cohesive with Israel, YHWH and the truth of God’s revelation to Israel. Foreign gods were brought into Jerusalem to be welcomed with their own temples, incense and sacrifices. Altars were built for their worship of these gods:
Ashtoreth, goddess of Sidon (known as Ishtar in Syria/Mesopotamia and as Astarte in Phoenicia), the fertility goddess and consort of Baal. She is the “Queen of Heaven” in Jeremiah 7:18 and 44:17-19
Molek, god of Ammon (also in Syria and known as Baal among the Canaanites), is associated with child sacrifice in both the Bible and inscriptions in Carthage.
Chemosh, god of Moab, is credited on the Mesha Stele (or, Moabite Stone) with giving the Moabites the victory over Israel that is also recorded in 2 Kings 3:4-8.
Molek, god of Ammon and Phoenicia to whom Israel eventually sacrificed their infants in the Hinnom Valley (2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35)
Besides the fact that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, the other shocking revelation in this passage of scripture is that, "On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh." This means that visible from the Temple Mount was a bamot, or a "high place," on the Mount of Olives that was built to another god. This bamot would have been a temple structure that included a staircase leading up to an altar built in front of a standing stone with a place to burn incense to Chemosh.