Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 3

Solomon’s wisdom: a woman steals a baby

1 Kings 3:16-20

These two women were prostitutes. In other words, they would have been poor women who agreed to have sex with a man for money. Unlike many prostitutes today, they probably knew well the man or men with whom they had sex. They would have tried to find a rich man because it could benefit them much to become the father of his son (compare Judges 11:1-2).

In time, it became clear that both of them were going to have babies. So, they did not continue to offer themselves for sex – instead, they rented a poor person’s home together, which would have just a single room. There, they both slept, and there, they had their babies.

The first baby to be born was a boy. That news brought great pride to his mother, but caused the other woman to feel deeply jealous. She did not yet know whether her baby would be a boy or a girl. She waited in fear for the birth, because many women died then (for example, Genesis 35:16-18; 1 Samuel 4:19-20).

Only three days later, the second woman’s baby was born. He too was a boy, and his birth brought her great joy. Sadly, her joy did not last for long. During the night, each mother held her baby close to her. Unfortunately, this mother rolled on top of the baby. The baby could not breathe and so he died.

That accident was a terrible loss, of course, for the baby’s mother. In her desperate state, she made a plan so that the baby’s father would respect and love her. She would steal the living baby from her friend, the other woman. That woman would believe that her own child had died; and the woman who stole the baby would seem to have a living son.

Next part: Solomon has to make a difficult judgment (1 Kings 3:21-23)


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