Legal Humour Blog


January 2013

The Wisdom of Solomon

Jan 13, 2013 6:16 PM
Marcel Strigberger

I find that many landmark legal decisions are not sufficiently reported. All too often the reporting ends with the judgement.

Consider for example the story about the two women who appeared with a newborn baby before the wise King Solomon, each claiming the baby was hers. One mother's baby was stillborn and she wanted a shot at recovering her neighbour's living child.

His Highness, in his wisdom, offered to cut the baby in two, giving one half to each woman. At that point, the real mother consented to let the other woman have the whole baby, while the fake mother agreed to take half thereby alerting the wise king that the latter woman was not quite into this for the love of the baby.

The problem with this report is that it ends there. Nowhere are we told what became of this child, or of the "mothers" for that matter. I am sure many people would like to know more about Solomon's famous judgment.

I have done some legal historical digging around and indeed matters did not end there and then in Solomon's court. I have discovered the following:

Firstly, the phony mom's name was Myrtle. Myrtle daughter of Zebulun. His Highness not only denied her the child, he also fined her 100 shekels for attempted fraud. When Myrtle got home and related this incident to her husband Albert son of Levi, her husband was livid.

"You fell for that 'I'll cut the baby in two' line? That's the oldest trick in the book!", he bellowed.

Albert's second wife, Naomi daughter of Pushka added smugly, "You fool. I told you it wouldn't work. Solomon isn't stupid. I don't know what Albert ever saw in you."

Interestingly enough it seems that Myrtle apparently tried a similar caper three years earlier in the land of Goshen. This time when the king of Goshen, King Og, offered to cut the baby in two, she immediately responded, "No, let the other lady have the child", whereupon King Og, said, "No problem madam", and he gave the infant to the other woman.

Eventually Myrtle and Albert attended at the local branch of the Child Service office where they put their names on the adoption list. This time Albert did all the talking.

And what do you think happened to our famous baby? The real mother, Tamara daughter of Ebenezer, was ecstatic. So was her husband, Jeremiah the milkman. (Nobody knew who his father was).

Jeremiah after his initial jubilation turned to his wife and scolded her soundly.

"Tamara, how could you take your eyes off our newborn child, even for a minute. You know about all those crazies lurking around in the midwife’s clinic."

Jeremiah however forgave his wife and a couple of days later the couple had the baby ritually circumcised. The parents by this time were nonetheless a bit paranoid about people with knives and they watched the rabbi very carefully. They named the baby Isaac, Isaac son of Jeremiah the bastard.

King Solomon was the talk of the party that followed. Tamara couldn't stop talking about the wisdom of His Highness. "As I stood there", she said nibbling on a piece of herring, "I trembled, and when I saw the king take out his huge sword and measure off little Isaac to find the mid point of his belly, I thought that was it."

Little Isaac was a celebrity for many years. Tourists visiting Jerusalem would pass by his parents' house hoping to catch a glimpse of the boy. The government in fact for many years sponsored daily shows, whereby Isaac would stand at his window three times a day usually with his mom, and wave to the crowds. As well they would go on tour from time to time. During his growing years little Isaac spent many a day cutting ribbons at openings of bridges, museums and sacrificial altars. The government even promised a sizeable stipend to the boy once he would reach his adulthood.

Over the years Isaac started to shun the publicity and ultimately he grew up to become a humble baker. He enjoyed his work but hated cutting bread. Every time a customer asked him to cut a whole loaf of bread, he identified with the bread. Once when a lady insisted on buying just half a loaf, he told her "No way" and he gave the entire loaf to another woman in the bakery who had offered to buy the whole bread. He explained to the half bread lady, "She wanted it more than you did."

The psychological ramifications of King Solomon’s judgment were evident.

Eventually a playwright, one Hymie son of Hymie (he wasn't Jewish) wrote a musical play about Isaac entitled, The King and I.

And what became of the wise King Solomon himself you might ask? When interviewed, he modestly declined to label the decision as one of extraordinary wisdom. When asked what he would have done had neither mother offered to let the other mother have the child rather than see him cut in two, His Highness said, "Who knows? What would Moses have done had the Red Sea not parted? You cross that bridge when you get to it.

King Solomon then excused himself saying he had to get back to his wives.

And by the way, you may ask what ever happened with that stipend the government promised it would pay Little Isaac when he grew up? That one is still before the courts.

I always look for just and reasonable resolutions in my personal injury and family law practice.  Please visit .  And yes, King Solomon is one of my heroes.


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The Midwest Book Review has referred to Marcel Strigberger as "an irrepressible humorist with a story teller’s flair for spinning a yarn with true (and hysterically funny) insights into the basics of human nature".

Midwest Book Review

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