Who was King Lemuel in the Bible?
King Lemuel is referred to only once in the Bible, in Proverbs 31. The chapter begins: "The words of King Lemuel. An oracle his mother taught him" (v. 1). The advice that follows, which is an exhortation to chastity, justice, mercy, and temperance, appears to end with verse 9, but might continue through the end of the book. Nothing else is found in the Bible about King Lemuel aside from the two mentions in the beginning of Proverbs 31 (verses 1 and 4). Jewish legend identifies Lemuel as Solomon, here taking advice from his mother Bathsheba, but there is no clear evidence for that.
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The name Lemuel means "belonging to God" in Hebrew. Because he is identified as "King" we can assume that Lemuel ruled over something or someone, but we don't know if it was Israel or Judah or any other province. Lemuel is not found in any listing of the kings of Israel, particularly during the time of the writing of Proverbs. That seems to add credence to the idea that Lemuel is another name for King Solomon.
If Lemuel is indeed Solomon, and considering that Solomon had numerous wives and concubines, it is fitting that his mother would give him advice about women and how to find a virtuous wife. Verses 10-31 of the proverb list the attributes and character qualities of the kind of wife who would be an asset to any man, but especially to a king who needs wisdom in the choice of one who would influence him.
If the mother in this proverb is Bathsheba, she had first-hand knowledge of the danger multiple wives can be for a ruler. First Kings 11 describes the sad result of Solomon ignoring his mother's advice. Despite God's warnings not to take wives from foreign nations, Solomon did exactly that and his wives turned his heart away from God (1 Kings 11:1-13).
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