The Truth

And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.
And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.

How, given two such tales, to discern which is true? There are very explicitly no other witnesses, and the women can surely claim that they are most qualified to recognize their own children. Where then even to begin? Solomon's decision relies upon no factual evidence, quite unlike a modern detective story, for example - in that latter genre, it is always assumed that the answer is present in the story from the get-go, if one only has the perception and perseverance to piece it together. But this judgment is entirely based upon the women's characters, with the assumption that one has committed a crime and that her guilt will manifest - or rather, that the other's innocence will manifest in the form of heartfelt self-sacrifice, an outcome again quite surprising to a reader with modern expectations.


An Imposing Statue Of Zeus