Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 3:25

The king said, "Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Arbitration;   Judge;   Parents;   Rulers;   Solomon;   Tact;   Wisdom;   Thompson Chain Reference - Solomon;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Justice;   Magistrates;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Solomon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Book(s);   Court Systems;   King, Kingship;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Israel;   Priests and Levites;   Wisdom;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Boyhood ;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Law of Moses;   Sol'omon;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Decision;   Proverbs, Book of;   Queen of Sheba;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Divide the living child in two - This was apparently a very strange decision, and such as nothing could vindicate had it been carried into execution; but Solomon saw that the only way to find out the real mother was by the affection and tenderness which she would necessarily show to her offspring. He plainly saw that the real mother would rather relinquish her claim to her child than see it hewn in pieces before her eyes, while it was probable the pretender would see this with indifference. He therefore orders such a mode of trial as would put the maternal affection of the real mother to the utmost proof; the plan was tried, and it succeeded. This was a proof of his sound judgment, penetration, and acquaintance with human nature; but surely it is not produced as a proof of extraordinary and supernatural wisdom. We have several similar decisions even among heathens.

Suetonius, in his life of the Emperor Claudius, cap. xv., whom he celebrates for his wonderful sagacity and penetration on some particular occasions, tells us, that this emperor discovered a woman to be the mother of a certain young man, whom she refused to acknowledge as her son, by commanding her to marry him, the proofs being doubtful on both sides; for, rather than commit this incest, she confessed the truth. His words are: Feminam, non agnoscentem fllium suum, dubia utrinque argumentorum fide, ad confessionem compulit, indicto matrimonio juvenis.

Ariopharnes, king of Thrace, being appointed to decide between three young men, who each professed to be the son of the deceased king of the Cimmerians, and claimed the crown in consequence, found out the real son by commanding each to shoot an arrow into the body of the dead king: two of them did this without hesitation, the third refused, and was therefore judged by Ariopharnes to be the real son of the deceased. Grotius, on this place, quotes this relation from Diodorus Siculus; I quote this on his authority, but have not been able to find the place in Diodorus. This is a parallel case to that in the text; a covert appeal was made to the principle of affection; and the truth was discovered, as in the case of the mother of the living child.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:25". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-3.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the king said,.... To one of his officers:

divide the living child in two; not that he meant it should be actually done, though it might at first be thought he really intended it, and so strike the minds of some with horror, as it did, however, the mother; but he ordered this, to try the affections of the women, and thereby come to the true knowledge of the affair; though, some think he knew it before by their countenances and manner of speech, but that he was desirous all present might see it, and be satisfied of it:

and give half to the one, and half to the other; since both claimed it.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:25". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-3.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

Said — Though with a design far above the reach of the two women, or of the people present, who probably with horror expected the execution of it.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:25". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-kings-3.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 3:25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

Ver. 25. Divide the living child in two.] This he spake for trial, (a) and that he might make nature speak in the true mother. The like is recorded of Claudius Caesar, and of Galba, of Charles the Great, and of Alphonsus of Arragon, when but newly come to his crown.

And give half to the one, &c.] So the Arminians would divide man’s salvation between God’s free grace and man’s free will; Papists between Christ and their own good works.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:25". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-3.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He said this with seeming sincerity and earnestly, though with a design far above the reach of the two women or of the people present, who probably with admiration and horror expected the execution of it.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:25". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-3.html. 1685.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Kings 3:25. The king said — With seeming sincerity, though with a design far above the reach of the two women, or of the people present, who probably with horror expected the execution of his sentence. “Solomon knew at once that the only sign whereby to discover the true mother, would be her affection, and compassionate tenderness for her child; and therefore, in order to distinguish between the two, his business was to make trial of this. And if we suppose that, when he commanded the child to be divided, he spake with a sedate countenance and seeming earnestness, as the true mother’s petition to the king makes it apparent that he did; then we may suppose further, not only the two women, but all the people present, with dread and admiration expecting the execution of the thing; which when it ended in so just a decision, quite contrary to what they looked for, raised joy in every breast, and gave a more advantageous commendation to the judge. And yet Abarbinel, the Jewish commentator, thinks that all this was no great proof of Solomon’s extraordinary wisdom, nor could it beget that fear or reverence which the text (says 1 Kings 3:28) it procured to his person. His opinion, therefore, is, that Solomon made a discovery of the truth antecedent to this experiment; that by observing the countenance, the manner of speech, and all the motions of the women, he discerned the secret of their hearts, and penetrated to the bottom of the business; and that his commanding the child to be divided afterward was only to notify to the company what he before had discovered.” See Patrick and Calmet.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:25". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-kings-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Other. This sentence manifested the wisdom of Solomon, who knew that the real mother would feel the emotions of parental tenderness. By similar experiments, the truth has sometimes been discovered. Claudius obliged a mother to own her son, by ordering her to take him for a husband. (Seutonius xv.) --- The king of Trace told three who pretended to be the sons of the deceased king of the Cimmerians, to shoot an arrow at the corpse; which the real son would not do. (Calmet) (Diodorus, Sic.) --- A native of Mexico, reclaiming a horse which a Spaniard pretended was his, as the judge was under some doubts, the American threw his cloak over the horse's head, and asked which eye was blind? The Spaniard replied, the right; and thus was detected. (Palafox.)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:25". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-3.html. 1859.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
Divide
This was apparently a very strange decision; but Solomon saw that the only way to discover the real mother was by the affection and tenderness should would necessarily shew to her offspring. The plan was tried, and succeeded; and it was a proof of his sound judgment, penetration, and acquaintance with the human heart, or rather, of his extraordinary and supernatural wisdom. See ver. 28. The two following instances are in some faint manner to be compared to Solomon's decision, inasmuch as they also work upon the human sympathies. Suetonius, in his Life of the emperor Claudian, tells us, that this emperor discovered a woman to be the real mother of a young man, whom she refused to acknowledge, by commanding her to marry him, the proofs being doubtful on both sides; for, rather than commit incest, she confessed the truth. Diodorus Siculus also informs us, that Ariopharnes, king of Thrace, being appointed to decided between three young men, each of whom professed to be the son of the deceased king of the Cimmerians, and claimed the succession, discovered the real son by ordering each to shoot an arrow into the dead body of the king: two of them did this without hesitation; but the real son of the deceased monarch refused.
Proverbs 25:8
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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 3:25". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-3.html.