1st Kings 3:16-28
Two women showed up in Solomon’s court. The two women lived together, and within 3 days of each other, both bore children. One mother accidentally slept on her baby, and smothered it, killing it. The woman woke in the night, found her dead baby, and took it and swapped it with the other mother while she slept. The mother woke in the morning to find a dead baby at her bosom, and looked and saw “Aww man! My baby’s dead! Oh hey! Wait a tick! Smoeone played the old switcharoo on me.” So she knew her baby was with the other mother. The other mother denied it saying “Nope, you killed your baby, mine is alive.” So they go to Solomon, who says “OK ladies, tell ya what. I’m gonna get this purdy sword here, and slice the baby in half. That way, you both get at least half a baby, and that’s fair.” The fake mother says “Yeah, good idea! I’ll hold it, you slice, Kingie” while the other woman says “Woh, bucko, that’s messed up. If you’re gonna do that, just give the other lady the baby. I don’t want it to die.” King Solomon, oh wise one that he is, says “Ooooh! I got ya now. The woman who’d let me cut the baby up is a liar! The lady who protected her baby at all cost is the real mother, let her have the baby, and I won’t cut it up.”
I’ve heard this story all my life, and just read it. And I was always told it was such a shining example of Solomon’s wisdom.
I don’t get it.
First of all, why would such a petty matter be before the King of Israel? The Revised Std. Edition refers to the two women as Harlots. I would assume this means they weren’t really, ya know, high up on the social ladder. But that may be a language barrier problem.
Second of all, who the HELL would have thought, in a custody battle like this “Oh yes, cut the baby in half, that’s a great idea!” Anyone with half a lick of sense would have said “WHAT? King, are you off your damn rocker?” I don’t think that was a wise decion at all, because I don’t think it would have worked to get the fake mother to reveal herself. The fake mother would have stuck to her guns about it being “her baby.” and if she was dumb enough not to realize the King was pulling a ruse, and that anyone saying “Yes, half a baby is a great idea” would look like an idiot, then I doubt she was also smart enough to have walked to the damn court in the first place.
NOBODY would have wanted half a baby! Not even the fake mother. At the very least, you may argue, the fake mother thinks “If I can’t have it, then NOBODY can!” but I just don’t think she’d go for that, and reveal herself so soon.
I just don’t believe people act as silly and simplistic as they do in this story. I think it’s suggesting that “Bad people are so stupid they’d fall for this.” which many “Good people” want to believe. But I don’t think it’s so. Not for one second. I don’t think this would have worked on ANYONE.
So someone exlpain to me, why WAS this a wise decision (I think it was transparent, and wouldn’t have worked) and is this story at all logical?
Can you undersand the fake mother’s view that, yes, indeed, a half a baby would be better than no-baby at all.
Besides, if she’s that dumb, wouldn’t she feel gyped?! I mean, after this happens, the fake mother will only have half a dead baby. But the REAL mother will have 1 and a half dead babies, since she already has the body the fake mother gave her during the night.