King Solomon had sixty armed warriors surrounding his bed every night to protect him. How do we know this?
In the Song of Songs 3:7, we are told,
“Hinei mitato shel Shlomo,” – “Behold the bed of Solomon!”
“Shishim giborim saviv lo migiborei Yisrael,” – “Sixty warriors surrounding it from amongst the mightiest men of Israel.”
We recite this verse as one of the reassuring Biblical texts that we say every night before we go to sleep in our kriat shema al hamitta, and it begs the question: is this really reassuring?
If King Solomon required sixty armed men to protect him every night then how much more vulnerable, even with the best alarm system in the world, should we feel ? Our sages in the Midrash Shir Hashirim Rabba 3:7:1 give us the answer. They tell us that actually, what King Solomon had around his bed was not armed men at all! Rather, he had the words of the Yevarechecha blessing surrounding his bed – the well known priestly blessing given to us in Parshat Nasso.
“Yevarechecha Hashem veyishmareicha,” – “May Hashem bless you and keep you,”
“Ya’er Hashem panav eilecha vichuneka,” – “May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you,”
“Yisa Hashem panav eilecha veyasaim lecha shalom.” – “May the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.”
So the letters of those words surrounded his bed. How do we get to that? It says ‘shishim giborim’ – sixty mighty warriors!
But the Midrash explains: If you count the letters of the Yevarechecha blessing, there are exactly sixty.
So here we learn something really powerful: King Solomon was the cleverest of all people and it takes a wise person to know that as powerful and as mighty as you are, you are still vulnerable. We all, whoever we are, need the blessing and the protection of Hashem.
This verse – Yevarechecha – was surely the favourite passuk of King Solomon, and the Midrash explains why. The name Shlomo, Solomon, comes from the root shalom. He was ‘ish shel shalom shelo’, a person blessed with peace. Indeed, we see that he reigned over Israel for 40 years without a single war to wage. The people were blessed with peace during his reign. The shalom which is embodied within the Yevarechecha blessing accompanied him at all times.
Our prayer therefore is: may we, through the blessings of the Kohanim (our priests), be given blessing and protection. May Hashem always shine His face upon us and give us ongoing peace.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis