“And the King said, ‘Bring me a sword.’ So a
sword was brought before the King. And the
King said ‘Divide the child in two, and give half
to the one and half to the other.’”
1 Kings 3:24-25
The story of King Solomon and his brilliant solution
to the competing claims of the two mothers
Solomon was busy that day with matters of state
and a long list of supplicants.
Plus, his middle-aged depression
had recently grown much more severe.
He tried listening to the rival claimants,
each tugging on the infant’s blanket -
their multiple bracelets echoing in the throne room.
They sounded like lying harlots to him.
Wishing to be through with it, he sent them out
to procure lawyers and dig up the proper documents
he knew did not exist.
It was only outside in the courtyard,
as they went on shrieking,
that a soldier threatened to solve the problem
by cutting the child in half.
And then the true mother stopped him,
offering to give up her claim,
while the other, cunningly, just waited.
And so she, the deceiver, was the one
who received the baby that day
and raised it as her own.
Years later, when he was older
and considerably more tranquil,
Solomon had the habit of strolling out among his people;
and one day encountered the real mother
and asked about the child
and the dilemma presented to him years before.
And so he heard the story of the angry soldier
and the threat. How she had given up the child.
And it was then, as she wept,
that Solomon realized what he could have done
so many years before to reveal the truth.
In a flash of despair, he discovered this wisdom -
not the effortless solution mythologized
by those who prefer the idolatry of kings.