By Jeff Chon
King Solomon was the wisest man on earth. People came from other lands to ask him questions, and he gave them wise answers—the wisest answers—and the kings and queens who came to see him brought him beautiful gifts—the best gifts, tremendous gifts, all of Israel told him no one had better gifts than he. Then one day two women came to Solomon with a baby.
“Your Majesty, one woman said, “this woman and I live in the same house. Not long ago my baby was born at home, and three days later her baby was born. Nobody else was there with us. One night while we were all asleep, she rolled over on her baby, and he died. Then while I was still asleep, she got up and took my son out of my bed. She put him in her bed, and then she put her dead baby next to me. In the morning when I got up to feed my son, I saw that he was dead. But when I looked at him in the light, I knew he wasn’t my son.”
“No!” the other woman shouted. “Your son is dead. My baby is alive!”
“The dead baby is yours,” the first woman yelled. “Mine is alive!”
They argued back and forth in front of Solomon until finally he said, “Both of you say this live baby is yours. Someone bring me a sword.”
A sword was brought, and Solomon ordered, “Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him.”
It was a wise plan. Solomon never planned on letting the baby be cut in half. He wanted to see what the women would do. He knew the baby’s mother would not let her son be hurt.
“Please don’t kill my son,” the baby’s mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.”
The other woman shouted, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.”
And with that, Solomon realized something. The woman who begged for the baby’s life was the child’s true mother—this was true—but by not allowing the baby to be cut in half, was she not disrespecting the wishes of the other woman? After all, the other woman shouted for the baby to be cut in half, and her opinion was valid too. Would a just leader ignore the wishes of those who wanted babies cut in half? Do all opinions not matter equally?
So Solomon ordered his servant to cut the baby in half. The mother, the true mother, watched the sword cleave the child’s plump, grape-like flesh. It pained her deeply but she knew Solomon’s decision to be wise and just. She stared with the dead eyes of a gutted fish until the child stopped screaming, and then dropped to her knees. Solomon listened to the woman beg for forgiveness, and then commanded her to her feet.
“Let it be known throughout the land,” he said. “Both sides are just as bad, hashtag America.”