In the accompanying article, Alan Millard amply demonstrates that the gold attributed in the Bible to King Solomon was entirely consistent, both in use and extent, with what we know about the ancient Near East. Yet, readers must be led to wonder: If Solomon had all this gold, why haven’t we found it? Where did it go?

The answer is simple: to Egypt!

Soon after Solomon’s death, his kingdom split in two: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Jeroboam ruled in the north and Solomon’s feckless son Rehoboam ruled Judah from Jerusalem.

In the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign, the formidable Egyptian pharaoh Shoshenq I (referred to in the Bible as Shishak) conducted a devastating military campaign in Judah and Israel. According to the Bible, he took with him as booty the Temple and palace treasures:

“In the fifth year of Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the Temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made” (1 Kings 14:25–26).

This probably occurred in the summer of 925 B.C. Within a year or so of his conquest, the formidable Shishak (Shoshenq I) was dead. He was followed on the pharaonic throne in 924 B.C. by his son, Osorkon I.

Directly after Shishak’s death, and less than a decade after Solomon’s death, Osorkon proudly recorded on a granite pillar in a temple at Bubastis, in the eastern Nile Delta, his own breathtakingly munificent gifts to the gods and goddesses of Egypt. These gifts were for “[all the gods and goddesses of the cities] of Upper and Lower Egypt, from Year 1 (of Osorkon’s reign) … to Year 4 … , making 3 years, 3 months and 16 days,” that is for the period from 924 to 921 B.C.

Only fragments of this long and detailed hieroglyphic text of Osorkon have been found. But these seem to record gifts totaling approximately two million deben of silver, and 2,300,000 deben of gold and silver—at least 383 tons of precious metal given by Osorkon to the gods.g

The crowded lines of the main text give us details of rich gifts to each god or goddess: “What His Majesty gave to the Temple of Aman-re … a standing statue offering incense, … its body of beaten gold and silver, amounting to: gold, 183 deben, silver, 19,000 deben, black copper . … ”

After the gifts to Re comes: “gold, lapis … 332,000 deben, total, 594,300 deben,” and so on.

Where could Osorkon have obtained such immense wealth, to spend on such a scale after only three and a third years of his reign?

Barely five years earlier, Osorkon’s father Shishak had looted the wealth of Jerusalem. It seems unlikely to be a mere coincidence that almost immediately after that event Osorkon could dispose so freely of so much gold and silver.h

The vast amounts of Solomon’s golden wealth may have ended up, at least in part, as Osorkon’s gift to the gods and goddesses of Egypt.