Two prostitute roommates had babies within three days of each other. While sleeping one night, one prostitute rolled over on her son and accidentally suffocated him. She quietly swapped sons with the other woman, and insisted it was her baby. The other woman knew better.
Two women and a baby showed up in Solomon’s court.
“All right, bring me a sword,” Solomon said. “Cut the living child in tow and give half to each of these women!” (1 Kings 3:24-25).
In today’s culture, that sounds like an obvious trick. But in the ancient Middle East, all-powerful rulers sometimes did crazy things like that. An Egyptian ruler named Haremhab had a law for anyone interfering with boat traffic on the Nile: “His nose shall be cut off.” Assyrian rulers sometimes cut off noses, ears, and even lips. One Ammonite king in what is now Jordan gouged out the right eye of every Hebrew he could fine east of the Jordan River. Kings with sharp instruments were taken seriously.
The baby snatcher was fine with Solomon’s ruling. But the horrified mother replied, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child-please do not kill her!” (1 Kings 3:26).
That’s when everyone knew who the real mother was.