1 Kings 3:26
Then spoke the woman whose the living child was to the king, for her bowels yearned on her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither my nor yours, but divide it.
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3:16-28 An instance of Solomon's wisdom is given. Notice the difficulty of the case. To find out the true mother, he could not try which the child loved best, and therefore tried which loved the child best: the mother's sincerity will be tried, when the child is in danger. Let parents show their love to their children, especially by taking care of their souls, and snatching them as brands out of the burning. By this and other instances of the wisdom with which God endued him, Solomon had great reputation among his people. This was better to him than weapons of war; for this he was both feared and loved.Solomon determined to inaugurate his reign by a grand religious ceremonial at each of the two holy places which at this time divided between them the reverence of the Jews. Having completed the religious service at Gibeon, where was the tabernacle of the congregation, he proceeded to Jerusalem, and sacrificed before the ark of the covenant, which was in Mount Zion 2 Samuel 6:12. A great feast naturally followed on a large sacrifice of peace-offerings. In these the sacrificer always partook of the flesh of the victim, and he was commanded to call in to the feast the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow Deuteronomy 14:29. Compare 2 Samuel 6:19; 1 Chronicles 16:3. 1Ki 3:16-28. His Judgment between Two Harlots.

16. Then came there two women—Eastern monarchs, who generally administer justice in person, at least in all cases of difficulty, often appeal to the principles of human nature when they are at a loss otherwise to find a clue to the truth or see clearly their way through a mass of conflicting testimony. The modern history of the East abounds with anecdotes of judicial cases, in which the decision given was the result of an experiment similar to this of Solomon upon the natural feelings of the contending parties.

No text from Poole on this verse. Then spake the woman, whose the living child was, unto the king,.... In haste, and with great vehemency, lest the executioner should at once dispatch it:

(for her bowels yearned upon her son); not being able to bear to see his life taken away:

and she said, O my lord: or, "on me (q), my lord"; let the sin, the lie that I have told, be on me, and the punishment of it; she rather chose to be reckoned a liar, and to endure any punishment such an offence deserved, than that her child should be cut asunder:

give her the living child, and in no wise slay it; being willing to part with her interest in it, rather than it should be put to death:

but the other said, let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it; for as she knew it was not her own, she had no affection for it, nor desire to have it; chose rather to be clear of the expense of keeping and nursing it, and would, by its being put to death, be avenged of her adversary, who had brought this cause before the king.

(q) "in me", Montanus; so Abarbinel.

Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and {n} in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.

(n) Her motherly affection appears in that she would rather endure the rigor of the law than see her child cruelly slain.

26. her bowels yerned] It was believed that some of the viscera were the seat of the emotions. Hence this expression is very common both in the Old and New Testament for the keenest and strongest feeling. The verb yern, cognate with the German adverb gern = ‘eagerly’, ‘gladly’, implies intense desire. The literal sense of the Hebrew verb is ‘to grow excessively warm.’ We speak of the heart burning within any one.

in no wise slay it] The mother’s love comes out. She could be content if it only lived and she might see it, though it were called the child of another.

divide it] In this word she addresses those who stand ready to execute the king’s sentence, ‘divide (ye) it.’Verse 26. - Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels [thought by most of the ancients to be the seat of the affections, probably because of the sensations which strong emotions excite there. Cf. τὰ σπλάγχνα in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 6:12; Philippians 2:1; Philemon 1:7, 20, etc.] yearned [Heb. glowed. We speak of "glowing with pity," etc.] upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it, But the other [Heb. this] said [Heb. saying] Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. [The Hebrew is strikingly concise, "divide." We have here by far the greatest difficulty in the story. When the pretender, who has clamoured for the child, is at last offered it by its mother, she refuses the gift and heartlessly urges that it shall be cut in two. We can only account for her strange conduct on the supposition that. she caught eagerly at any way of escape from the dilemma in which she had placed herself, and thought, no doubt, that to accept his decision would be to flatter and please the king. (See Homiletics.) Solomon's Judicial Wisdom. - As a proof that the Lord had bestowed upon Solomon unusual judicial wisdom, there is appended a decision of his in a very difficult case, in which Solomon had shown extraordinary intelligence. Two harlots living together in one house had each given birth to a child, and one of them had "overlaid" her child in the night while asleep (עליו שׁכבה אשׁר, because she had lain upon it), and had then placed her dead child in the other one's bosom and taken her living child away. When the other woman looked the next morning at the child lying in her bosom, she saw that it was not her own but the other woman's child, whereas the latter maintained the opposite. As they eventually referred the matter in dispute to the king, and each one declared that the living child was her own, the king ordered a sword to be brought, and the living child to be cut in two, and a half given to each. Then the mother of the living child, "because her bowels yearned upon her son," i.e., her maternal love was excited, cried out, "Give her (the other) the living child, but do not slay it;" whereas the latter said, "It shall be neither mine nor thine, cut it in pieces."
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