With the royal power firmly in his grasp, Solomon allied himself by marriage with Pharaoh, king of Egypt. The daughter of Pharaoh, whom he married, he brought to the City of David, until he should finish building his palace, and the temple of the LORD, and the wall around Jerusalem.
However, the people were sacrificing on the high places, for up to that time no temple had been built to the name of the LORD.
Solomon loved the LORD, and obeyed the statutes of his father David; yet he offered sacrifice and burned incense on the high places.
The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, because that was the most renowned high place. Upon its altar Solomon offered a thousand holocausts.
In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
Solomon answered: “You have shown great favor to your servant, my father David, because he behaved faithfully toward you, with justice and an upright heart; and you have continued this great favor toward him, even today, seating a son of his on his throne.
O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.
I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request.
So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this – not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right –
I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.
In addition, I give you what you have not asked for, such riches and glory that among kings there is not your like.
And if you follow me by keeping my statutes and commandments, as your father David did, I will give you a long life.”
When Solomon awoke from his dream, he went to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, offered holocausts and peace offerings, and gave a banquet for all his servants.
Later, two harlots came to the king and stood before him.
One woman said: “By your leave, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth in the house while she was present.
On the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. We were alone in the house; there was no one there but us two.
This woman’s son died during the night; she smothered him by lying on him.
Later that night she got up and took my son from my side, as I, your handmaid, was sleeping. Then she laid him in her bosom, after she had laid her dead child in my bosom.
I rose in the morning to nurse my child, and I found him dead. But when I examined him in the morning light, I saw it was not the son whom I had borne.”
The other woman answered, “It is not so! The living one is my son, the dead one is yours.” But the first kept saying, “No, the dead one is your child, the living one is mine!” Thus they argued before the king.
Then the king said: “One woman claims, ‘This, the living one, is my child, and the dead one is yours.’ The other answers, ‘No! The dead one is your child; the living one is mine.'”
The king continued, “Get me a sword.” When they brought the sword before him,
he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other.”
The woman whose son it was, in the anguish she felt for it, said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living child – please do not kill it!” The other, however, said, “It shall be neither mine nor yours. Divide it!”
The king then answered, “Give the first one the living child! By no means kill it, for she is the mother.”
When all Israel heard the judgment the king had given, they were in awe of him, because they saw that the king had in him the wisdom of God for giving judgment.