Song of Solomon 6:8—Why are Solomon’s wives and concubines listed as 140 when he had 1,000?

Problem: Here Solomon is said to have had only 140 wives and concubines, but 1 Kings 11:3 gives the number of 1,000.

Solution: These two passages may refer to two different times in his life, the lower number being the earlier one. Or, it may be that there were different ways of counting his wives. First Kings 11:3 does not really say he had seven hundred wives but “seven hundred wives, princesses.” In other words, many of these were more political alliances rather than actual marriages. Further, in the Song of Solomon it speaks of “virgins without number” (Song 6:8) being part of Solomon’s female entourage. This general statement could easily account for the total of 1,000 mentioned in 1 Kings 11.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.