1 Kings 3
New English Translation
The Lord Gives Solomon Wisdom
3 Solomon made an alliance by marriage with Pharaoh, king of Egypt; he married Pharaoh’s daughter. He brought her to the City of David[a] until he could finish building his residence and the temple of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem. 2 Now the people were offering sacrifices at the high places,[b] because in those days a temple had not yet been built to honor the Lord.[c] 3 Solomon demonstrated his loyalty to the Lord by following[d] the practices[e] of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
4 The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for it had the most prominent of the high places.[f] Solomon would offer up[g] 1,000 burnt sacrifices on the altar there. 5 One night in Gibeon the Lord appeared[h] to Solomon in a dream. God said, “Tell[i] me what I should give you.” 6 Solomon replied, “You demonstrated[j] great loyalty to your servant, my father David, as he served[k] you faithfully, properly, and sincerely.[l] You have maintained this great loyalty to this day by allowing his son to sit on his throne.[m] 7 Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in my father David’s place, even though I am only a young man and am inexperienced.[n] 8 Your servant stands[o] among your chosen people;[p] they are a great nation that is too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning mind[q] so he can make judicial decisions for[r] your people and distinguish right from wrong.[s] Otherwise[t] no one is able[u] to make judicial decisions for[v] this great nation of yours.”[w] 10 The Lord[x] was pleased that Solomon made this request.[y] 11 God said to him, “Because you asked for the ability to make wise judicial decisions, and not for long life, or riches, or vengeance on your enemies,[z] 12 I[aa] grant your request[ab] and give[ac] you a wise and discerning mind[ad] superior to that of anyone who has preceded or will succeed you.[ae] 13 Furthermore, I am giving[af] you what you did not request—riches and honor so that you will be the greatest king of your generation.[ag] 14 If you follow my instructions[ah] by obeying[ai] my rules and regulations, just as your father David did,[aj] then I will grant you long life.”[ak] 15 Solomon then woke up and realized it was a dream.[al] He went to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord’s covenant, offered up burnt sacrifices, presented peace offerings,[am] and held a feast for all his servants.
Solomon Demonstrates His Wisdom
16 Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of the women said, “My master, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was with me in the house. 18 Then three days after I had my baby, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one else in the house except the two of us.[an] 19 This woman’s child suffocated[ao] during the night when she rolled[ap] on top of him. 20 She got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your servant was sleeping. She put him in her arms, and put her dead son in my arms. 21 I got up in the morning to nurse my son, and there[aq] he was, dead! But when I examined him carefully in the morning, I realized it was not my baby.”[ar] 22 The other woman said, “No! My son is alive; your son is dead!” But the first woman replied, “No, your son is dead; my son is alive.” Each presented her case before the king.[as]
23 The king said, “One says, ‘My son is alive; your son is dead,’ while the other says, ‘No, your son is dead; my son is alive.’” 24 The king ordered, “Get me a sword.” So they placed a sword before the king. 25 The king then said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one and half to the other!” 26 The real mother[at] spoke up to the king, for her motherly instincts were awakened.[au] She said, “My master, give her the living child! Whatever you do, don’t kill him!”[av] But the other woman said, “Neither one of us will have him. Let them cut him in two!” 27 The king responded, “Give the first woman the living child; don’t kill him. She is the mother.” 28 When all Israel heard about the judicial decision which the king had rendered, they respected[aw] the king, for they realized[ax] that he possessed divine wisdom[ay] to make judicial decisions.
- 1 Kings 3:1 sn The phrase City of David refers here to the fortress of Zion in Jerusalem, not to Bethlehem. See 2 Sam 5:7.
- 1 Kings 3:2 sn Offering sacrifices at the high places. The “high places” were places of worship that were naturally or artificially elevated.
- 1 Kings 3:2 tn Heb “for the name of the Lord.” The word “name” sometimes refers to one’s reputation or honor (thus the translation here, “to honor the Lord”). The “name” of the Lord sometimes designates the Lord himself, being indistinguishable from the proper name.
- 1 Kings 3:3 tn Heb “by walking in.”
- 1 Kings 3:3 tn Or “policies, rules.”
- 1 Kings 3:4 tn Heb “for it was the great high place.”
- 1 Kings 3:4 tn Or, “customarily offered up.” The verb form is an imperfect, which is probably used here in a customary sense to indicate continued or repeated action in past time. See GKC 314 §107.b.
- 1 Kings 3:5 tn Or “revealed himself.”
- 1 Kings 3:5 tn Heb “ask.”
- 1 Kings 3:6 tn Heb “did.”
- 1 Kings 3:6 tn Heb “walked before.”
- 1 Kings 3:6 tn Heb “in faithfulness and in innocence and in uprightness of heart with you.”
- 1 Kings 3:6 tn Heb “and you have kept to him this great loyalty and you gave to him a son [who] sits on his throne as this day.”
- 1 Kings 3:7 tn Heb “and I do not know going out or coming in.”
- 1 Kings 3:8 tn There is no verb expressed in the Hebrew text; “stands” is supplied in the translation for clarification.
- 1 Kings 3:8 tn Heb “your people whom you have chosen.”
- 1 Kings 3:9 tn Heb “a hearing heart.” (The Hebrew term translated “heart” often refers to the mental faculties.)
- 1 Kings 3:9 tn Heb “to judge.”
- 1 Kings 3:9 tn Heb “to understand between good and evil.”
- 1 Kings 3:9 tn Heb “for”; the word “otherwise” is used to reflect the logical sense of the statement.
- 1 Kings 3:9 tn Heb “who is able?” The rhetorical question anticipates the answer, “no one.”
- 1 Kings 3:9 tn Heb “to judge.”
- 1 Kings 3:9 tn Heb “your numerous people.”
- 1 Kings 3:10 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here and in v.15 is אֲדֹנָי (ʾadonay).
- 1 Kings 3:10 tn Heb “And the thing was good in the eyes of the Lord, for Solomon asked for this thing.”
- 1 Kings 3:11 tn Heb “because you asked for this thing, and did not ask for yourself many days and did not ask for yourself riches and did not ask for the life of your enemies, but you asked for yourself understanding to hear judgment.”
- 1 Kings 3:12 tn This statement is introduced in the Hebrew text by the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) which draws attention to and emphasizes what follows.
- 1 Kings 3:12 tn Heb “I am doing according to your words.” The perfect tense is sometimes used of actions occurring at the same time a statement is made.
- 1 Kings 3:12 tn This statement is introduced by the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) which draws attention to and emphasizes what follows. The translation assumes that the perfect tense here indicates that the action occurs as the statement is made (i.e., “right now I give you”).
- 1 Kings 3:12 tn Heb “heart.” (The Hebrew term translated “heart” often refers to the mental faculties.)
- 1 Kings 3:12 tn Heb “so that there has not been one like you prior to you, and after you one will not arise like you.”
- 1 Kings 3:13 tn The translation assumes that the perfect tense here indicates that the action occurs as the statement is made.
- 1 Kings 3:13 tn Heb “so that there is not one among the kings like you all your days.” The LXX lacks the words “all your days.”
- 1 Kings 3:14 tn Heb “walk in my ways.”
- 1 Kings 3:14 tn Or “keeping.”
- 1 Kings 3:14 tn Heb “walked.”
- 1 Kings 3:14 tn Heb “I will lengthen your days.”
- 1 Kings 3:15 tn Heb “and look, a dream.”
- 1 Kings 3:15 tn Or “tokens of peace”; NIV, TEV “fellowship offerings.”
- 1 Kings 3:18 sn There was no one else in the house except the two of us. In other words, there were no other witnesses to the births who could identify which child belonged to which mother.
- 1 Kings 3:19 tn Heb “died.”
- 1 Kings 3:19 tn Heb “lay, slept.”
- 1 Kings 3:21 tn Heb “look.”
- 1 Kings 3:21 tn Heb “look, it was not my son to whom I had given birth.”
- 1 Kings 3:22 tn Heb “they spoke before the king.” Another option is to translate, “they argued before the king.”
- 1 Kings 3:26 tn Heb “the woman whose son was alive.”
- 1 Kings 3:26 tn Heb “for her compassions grew warm for her son.”
- 1 Kings 3:26 tn The infinitive absolute before the negated jussive emphasizes the main verb.
- 1 Kings 3:28 tn Heb “feared,” perhaps in the sense, “stood in awe of.”
- 1 Kings 3:28 tn Heb “saw.”
- 1 Kings 3:28 tn Heb “the wisdom of God was in his midst for performing justice.” The phrase “wisdom of God” may be taken as an attributive genitive, “divine wisdom,” or as a genitive of source, “wisdom from God.” Even in English they are basically the same, since wisdom from God is divine in character.