King Solomon was the first to turn Eilat into a major port on the Red Sea. Solomon’s fleet was stationed here and in the neighboring port of Ezion Geber, and from here Israelite merchants sailed throughout the ancient world. Treasures from all the major Mediterranean civilizations were brought to Israel during the Golden Age of Solomon. The Bible tells us in 1 Kings 9:26-28,
King Solomon also built ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath in Edom, on the shore of the Red Sea. And Hiram sent his men—sailors who knew the sea—to serve in the fleet with Solomon’s men. They sailed to Ophir and brought back 420 talents of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon.
The wealth brought into Israel during this time was staggering, and illustrates Israel’s far-flung trading empire. 1 Kings 10:22 describes the cargo brought back:
The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons.
Eilat has remained an important port city in Israel for over 3,000 years. Today, ships from around the world still sail on the Red Sea, bringing their treasures to Eilat.