Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

The Judgment of Solomon

Under the reign of Solomon, the Jewish kingdom reached its highest point of glory and power. The new king had inherited from his father not only an extensive country, but also very great wealth. He was, besides, very clever, and had been well educated by his mother, Bathsheba, and by the prophet Nathan.

When only ten years of age, Solomon had shared his fatherís flight, and at fifteen he was anointed as his successor. Solomon freely forgave the brother who tried to secure the throne, but when this same young man again tried to be king, he had him put to death.

In this conspiracy perished Shimei, Saulís last descendant, as well as Joab, Davidís principal captain; and the high priest Abiathar was banished forever. Solomon, having thus secured the throne, now made an alliance with the King of Egypt, and, to strengthen the bond of friendship between them, he married the Pharaohís daughter.

Shortly after his wedding Solomon went up to the heights of Gibeon, to offer up a great sacrifice. On that selfsame night, he heard the voice of the Lord, bidding him choose any gift he wished, and promising that it should be granted to him.

Solomon was still very young, and he realized that he would need much knowledge to govern his people; so he now asked for wisdom in preference to happiness or wealth. This wish was granted, and because he had thought more of his peopleís good than of his own, God also promised him long life, riches, and power.

The Great King, for such is the name Solomon bears in Jewish history, soon had occasion to make use of the wisdom that he had obtained. Two women appeared in his judgment hall, clamoring for justice and bringing with them one living and one dead child.

Solomon, with his usual regard for justice, heard both sides of the story; but as both women denied the dead child, and claimed the living, the people present were greatly perplexed. The king, however, seemed to feel no doubts. As both women laid equal claim to the living child, he said that it should at once be cut in two and one half given to each mother.

The guards, in obedience to this order, seized the child, and were about to divide it, when the real mother fell at Solomonís feet, begging him not to injure her child, and offering to give up all right to it, provided it might live.

The other woman, however, stood by unmoved, saying that the judgment was just. By her indifference to the fate of the living child, she showed that the dead one was hers. Solomon, having thus found out the truth, then bade the guards pause. He gave back the child to the real mother, and received much applause for the way in which he had settled this difficult case.



To extend the kingdom which had been left him by his father, Solomon made alliances with the Kings of Syria and Phoenicia, and greatly increased his riches by trading. In his reign large caravans set out in all directions, and came back from distant climes laden with precious things.

A large fleet of trading vessels also sailed out of Joppa, to bring gold from Ophir, ebony, ivory, spices, precious stones, silken and fine woolen materials, and almost every other thing you can think of. Many of these wares were sold, but the choicest among them were kept for the building or adornment of the great temple, which Solomon wished to erect on Mount Moriah, on the very spot where the angel of pestilence had stood when David was given the choice between a seven years' famine, a three months' flight, or a three days' plague.