The Two Prostitutes or the Two Kingdoms? A Critical Reading of King Solomon’s Wise Ruling (1 Kgs 3:16-28)

in Horizons in Biblical Theology
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The familiar story of King Solomon and the two prostitutes is often assumed to showcase the wise arbitration of King Solomon through the help of the divinely—endowed wisdom of Yahweh. In this standard reading of the passage, there is a quick intellectual fixation to show the relationship between the passage and the preceding divine encounter at Gibeon. Against the limitations of these traditional readings, the paper resituates the ideological/theological importance of the two prostitutes beyond its immediate literary landscape to encompass the entirety of the Deuteronomistic History (DtrH). Through verbal resonance and symbolic connections to the rest of the DtrH, the work underscores that the presence of these two prostitutes, at the opening of the book of Kings, is a significant prelude to the Dtr’s narratives on the subsequent demise of the two kingdoms.

The Two Prostitutes or the Two Kingdoms? A Critical Reading of King Solomon’s Wise Ruling (1 Kgs 3:16-28)

in Horizons in Biblical Theology




Knoppers“Rethinking the Relationship between Deuteronomy” 404.


Pyper“Judging the Wisdom of Solomon” 31.


Talshir“The Reign of Solomon in the Making” 242. See also Michael Carasik “The Limit of Omniscience” jbl 119 no. 2 (2000) 231 footnote 36.


Ibid. 164.


Ipsen“Solomon and the Two Prostitutes” 24. Looking at the two prostitutes as a “parody of Wisdom” or even the “parody of justice” Ipsen describes the “indeterminate economic mode of production” within the text. She specifically notes that “it is ridiculous that this king is going to cut the baby in half . . .” in spite of the painful plight of these two prostitutes.


Robert PolzinSamuel and the Deuteronomist: A Literary Study of the Deuteronomic History (San Francisco: Harper & Row1989).


Ibid. 23.


Ibid. 25.


Ibid. 26.


Milena Kirova“Why Should the Harlot be a Woman? Gender Identity as Allegorical Strategy of Representation in Prophetic Texts,” The Bible and Critical Theory 1 no. 4 (2005) 35.1.


A. H. Konkel“זר,” New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesisvol. 1 Willem A. VanGemeren ed. (Grand Rapid Michigan: Zondervan 1997) 1142-3.


Moshe Garsiel“Revealing and Concealing” 240.


Ibid. 241.


For example see Robin Gallaher BranchJeroboam’s Wife: The Enduring Contributions of the Old Testament Least-Known Women (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers2009) 85-107.


See Pyper“Judging the Wisdom of Solomon” 34.


See Pyper“Judging the Wisdom of Solomon” 32.


Ibid. 32.


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