Solomon’s Mistake

        “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


1 -            

The story of King Solomon and his brilliant solution 
to the competing claims of the two mothers 
is propaganda.

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.

2 -

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.