I Kings 3
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

1  And Shlomo became allied to Pharaoh king of Egypt by marriage, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of Hashem, and the wall of Yerushalayim round about.

א  וַיִּתְחַתֵּן שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת פַּרְעֹה מֶלֶךְ מִצְרָיִם וַיִּקַּח אֶת בַּת פַּרְעֹה וַיְבִיאֶהָ אֶל עִיר דָּוִד עַד כַּלֹּתוֹ לִבְנוֹת אֶת בֵּיתוֹ וְאֶת בֵּית יְהוָה וְאֶת חוֹמַת יְרוּשָׁלִַם סָבִיב.

2  Only the people sacrificed in the high places, because there was no house built for the name of Hashem until those days.

ב  רַק הָעָם מְזַבְּחִים בַּבָּמוֹת כִּי לֹא נִבְנָה בַיִת לְשֵׁם יְהוָה עַד הַיָּמִים הָהֵם.

3  And Shlomo loved Hashem, walking in the statutes of David his father; only he sacrificed and offered in the high places.

ג  וַיֶּאֱהַב שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת יְהוָה לָלֶכֶת בְּחֻקּוֹת דָּוִד אָבִיו רַק בַּבָּמוֹת הוּא מְזַבֵּחַ וּמַקְטִיר.

4  And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place; a thousand burnt-offerings did Shlomo offer upon that Mizbayach.

ד  וַיֵּלֶךְ הַמֶּלֶךְ גִּבְעֹנָה לִזְבֹּחַ שָׁם כִּי הִיא הַבָּמָה הַגְּדוֹלָה אֶלֶף עֹלוֹת יַעֲלֶה שְׁלֹמֹה עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ הַהוּא.

5  In Gibeon Hashem appeared to Shlomo in a dream by night; and God said: ‘Ask what I shall give thee.’

ה  בְּגִבְעוֹן נִרְאָה יְהוָה אֶל שְׁלֹמֹה בַּחֲלוֹם הַלָּיְלָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים שְׁאַל מָה אֶתֶּן לָךְ.

6  And Shlomo said: ‘Thou hast shown unto Thy servant David my father great kindness, according as he walked before Thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with Thee; and Thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that Thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

ו  וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁלֹמֹה אַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ עִם עַבְדְּךָ דָוִד אָבִי חֶסֶד גָּדוֹל כַּאֲשֶׁר הָלַךְ לְפָנֶיךָ בֶּאֱמֶת וּבִצְדָקָה וּבְיִשְׁרַת לֵבָב עִמָּךְ וַתִּשְׁמָר לוֹ אֶת הַחֶסֶד הַגָּדוֹל הַזֶּה וַתִּתֶּן לוֹ בֵן יֹשֵׁב עַל כִּסְאוֹ כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה.

7  And now, O Hashem my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king instead of David my father; and I am but a little child; I know not how to go out or come in.

ז  וְעַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי אַתָּה הִמְלַכְתָּ אֶת עַבְדְּךָ תַּחַת דָּוִד אָבִי וְאָנֹכִי נַעַר קָטֹן לֹא אֵדַע צֵאת וָבֹא.

8  And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.

ח  וְעַבְדְּךָ בְּתוֹךְ עַמְּךָ אֲשֶׁר בָּחָרְתָּ עַם רָב אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִמָּנֶה וְלֹא יִסָּפֵר מֵרֹב.

9  Give Thy servant therefore an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to judge this Thy great people?’

v’-na-ta-TA l’-av-d’-KHA layv sho-MAY-a lish-POT et a-m’-KHA l’-ha-VEEN bayn tov l’-RA kee mee yu-KHAL lish-POT et a-m’-KHA  ha-ka-VAYD ha-ZEH

ט  וְנָתַתָּ לְעַבְדְּךָ לֵב שֹׁמֵעַ לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת עַמְּךָ לְהָבִין בֵּין טוֹב לְרָע כִּי מִי יוּכַל לִשְׁפֹּט אֶת עַמְּךָ הַכָּבֵד הַזֶּה.

3:9   Give Thy servant therefore an understanding heart to judge Thy people

King Solomon attains prophecy and is asked by God what he desires. Though he could have asked for riches or long life, he asks for wisdom and understanding so that he can properly judge the Children of Israel. According to Jewish tradition, King Solomon becomes the wisest of all men and masters all subjects and languages, even those of the animals. He also demonstrates understanding of human beings, as shown by the famous case in this chapter where he correctly discerns who is the true mother of a disputed baby. The people of Israel rejoice in their king’s wisdom, and thus unite behind him (see 4:1). This is King Solomon’s reward for asking God for something that would not simply benefit him, but would benefit the entire nation and the whole world. Going beyond one’s individual needs to serve the nation is one of the signs of a true leader.

Comment

10  And the speech pleased Hashem, that Shlomo had asked this thing.

י  וַיִּיטַב הַדָּבָר בְּעֵינֵי אֲדֹנָי כִּי שָׁאַל שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה.

11  And God said unto him: ‘Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern justice;

יא  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֵלָיו יַעַן אֲשֶׁר שָׁאַלְתָּ אֶת הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה וְלֹא שָׁאַלְתָּ לְּךָ יָמִים רַבִּים וְלֹא שָׁאַלְתָּ לְּךָ עֹשֶׁר וְלֹא שָׁאַלְתָּ נֶפֶשׁ אֹיְבֶיךָ וְשָׁאַלְתָּ לְּךָ הָבִין לִשְׁמֹעַ מִשְׁפָּט.

12  behold, I have done according to thy word: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there hath been none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

יב  הִנֵּה עָשִׂיתִי כִּדְבָרֶיךָ הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי לְךָ לֵב חָכָם וְנָבוֹן אֲשֶׁר כָּמוֹךָ לֹא הָיָה לְפָנֶיךָ וְאַחֲרֶיךָ לֹא יָקוּם כָּמוֹךָ.

13  And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honour—so that there hath not been any among the kings like unto thee—all thy days.

יג  וְגַם אֲשֶׁר לֹא שָׁאַלְתָּ נָתַתִּי לָךְ גַּם עֹשֶׁר גַּם כָּבוֹד אֲשֶׁר לֹא הָיָה כָמוֹךָ אִישׁ בַּמְּלָכִים כָּל יָמֶיךָ.

14  And if thou wilt walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.’

יד  וְאִם תֵּלֵךְ בִּדְרָכַי לִשְׁמֹר חֻקַּי וּמִצְו‍ֹתַי כַּאֲשֶׁר הָלַךְ דָּוִיד אָבִיךָ וְהַאֲרַכְתִּי אֶת יָמֶיךָ.

15  And Shlomo awoke, and, behold, it was a dream; and he came to Yerushalayim, and stood before the ark of the covenant of Hashem, and offered up burnt-offerings, and offered peace-offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

טו  וַיִּקַץ שְׁלֹמֹה וְהִנֵּה חֲלוֹם וַיָּבוֹא יְרוּשָׁלִַם וַיַּעֲמֹד לִפְנֵי אֲרוֹן בְּרִית אֲדֹנָי וַיַּעַל עֹלוֹת וַיַּעַשׂ שְׁלָמִים וַיַּעַשׂ מִשְׁתֶּה לְכָל עֲבָדָיו.

16  Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.

טז  אָז תָּבֹאנָה שְׁתַּיִם נָשִׁים זֹנוֹת אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ וַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה לְפָנָיו.

17  And the one woman said: ‘Oh, my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.

יז  וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה הָאַחַת בִּי אֲדֹנִי אֲנִי וְהָאִשָּׁה הַזֹּאת יֹשְׁבֹת בְּבַיִת אֶחָד וָאֵלֵד עִמָּהּ בַּבָּיִת.

18  And it came to pass the third day after I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also; and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.

יח  וַיְהִי בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי לְלִדְתִּי וַתֵּלֶד גַּם הָאִשָּׁה הַזֹּאת וַאֲנַחְנוּ יַחְדָּו אֵין זָר אִתָּנוּ בַּבַּיִת זוּלָתִי שְׁתַּיִם אֲנַחְנוּ בַּבָּיִת.

19  And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlay it.

יט  וַיָּמָת בֶּן הָאִשָּׁה הַזֹּאת לָיְלָה אֲשֶׁר שָׁכְבָה עָלָיו.

20  And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thy handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.

כ  וַתָּקָם בְּתוֹךְ הַלַּיְלָה וַתִּקַּח אֶת בְּנִי מֵאֶצְלִי וַאֲמָתְךָ יְשֵׁנָה וַתַּשְׁכִּיבֵהוּ בְּחֵיקָהּ וְאֶת בְּנָהּ הַמֵּת הִשְׁכִּיבָה בְחֵיקִי.

21  And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead; but when I had looked well at it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, whom I did bear.’

כא  וָאָקֻם בַּבֹּקֶר לְהֵינִיק אֶת בְּנִי וְהִנֵּה מֵת וָאֶתְבּוֹנֵן אֵלָיו בַּבֹּקֶר וְהִנֵּה לֹא הָיָה בְנִי אֲשֶׁר יָלָדְתִּי.

22  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 spoke before the king.

כב  וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה הָאַחֶרֶת לֹא כִי בְּנִי הַחַי וּבְנֵךְ הַמֵּת וְזֹאת אֹמֶרֶת לֹא כִי בְּנֵךְ הַמֵּת וּבְנִי הֶחָי וַתְּדַבֵּרְנָה לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ.

23  Then said the king: ‘The one saith: This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead; and the other saith: Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.’

כג  וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ זֹאת אֹמֶרֶת זֶה בְּנִי הַחַי וּבְנֵךְ הַמֵּת וְזֹאת אֹמֶרֶת לֹא כִי בְּנֵךְ הַמֵּת וּבְנִי הֶחָי.

24  And the king said: ‘Fetch me a sword.’ And they brought a sword before the king.

כד  וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ קְחוּ לִי חָרֶב וַיָּבִאוּ הַחֶרֶב לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ.

25  And the king said: ‘Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.’

כה  וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ גִּזְרוּ אֶת הַיֶּלֶד הַחַי לִשְׁנָיִם וּתְנוּ אֶת הַחֲצִי לְאַחַת וְאֶת הַחֲצִי לְאֶחָת.

26  Then spoke the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her heart yearned upon her son, and she said: ‘Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it.’ But the other said: ‘It shall be neither mine nor thine; divide it.’

כו  וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר בְּנָהּ הַחַי אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי נִכְמְרוּ רַחֲמֶיהָ עַל בְּנָהּ וַתֹּאמֶר בִּי אֲדֹנִי תְּנוּ לָהּ אֶת הַיָּלוּד הַחַי וְהָמֵת אַל תְּמִיתֻהוּ וְזֹאת אֹמֶרֶת גַּם לִי גַם לָךְ לֹא יִהְיֶה גְּזֹרוּ.

27  Then the king answered and said: ‘Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.’

כז  וַיַּעַן הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיֹּאמֶר תְּנוּ לָהּ אֶת הַיָּלוּד הַחַי וְהָמֵת לֹא תְמִיתֻהוּ הִיא אִמּוֹ.

28  And all Yisrael heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king; for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do justice.

כח  וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ כָל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הַמִּשְׁפָּט אֲשֶׁר שָׁפַט הַמֶּלֶךְ וַיִּרְאוּ מִפְּנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ כִּי רָאוּ כִּי חָכְמַת אֱלֹהִים בְּקִרְבּוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת מִשְׁפָּט.

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I Kings 3