As JT traveled along the road, he met other travelers going the same way. Most were laden much heavier than JT and therefore traveled much slower. He overheard one saying, “He will know what to do; he is the wisest man ever born.”
JT kept hearing variations on this as he traveled towards the next large town by the sea. He kept hearing stories about this wise man who could solve any dilemma. That night he camped with a group of pilgrims making their way to see this wise man.
“But Jane,” the woman pleaded, “it only makes sense that the wise man will rule for me. How can it be otherwise? I am a good and righteous woman, and I have right on my side.” A woman across the campfire glared at her, “Are you saying that I am not a good and righteous woman? It is I who must prevail.” JT could see they were at an impasse. It was a good thing there was a wise man, otherwise this might end in bloodshed! They both had large families; this looked ripe for conflict if the matriarch deemed it necessary.
The next morning, they made it to the town and went towards the town square. There was quite a line already, but they bypassed the long line and went to a much shorter line. JT was interested in how this dilemma could be solved, so he followed them. Both matriarchs showed a scroll to the finely dressed guards keeping order. “Yes, all is in order, you will be seen shortly.”
JT noticed the short line seemed to move much faster, while the long line clearly was moving. He walked over to one of the guards and asked why there were two lines. “One is for ones with appointments, the other,” he gestured at the long line, “is for those who came without being asked. They will be seen also, just not as quickly.”
In a short while, the pilgrims he had camped with came to the forefront of the line. JT followed along with one of the clans and passed the guards easily. They were shown to a large courtyard where a man sat on an ornate throne. A man stood to the side and stated, “You have agreed that whatever this wise man decides will be legal and binding. There will be no appeal. Place your offerings in the bowls to the sides of you.”
A kindly but regal man with beard looked up at them and said kindly while gesturing to one of the women, “State your case first, and” then he gestured towards the other woman, “then you next.”
“My son married her,” gesturing to the other woman, “daughter and brought forth 3 sons. As is our custom, the eldest son will come and work on my behalf. The second born will go to my daughter-in-laws’ people. The third born should come and work on my behalf.”
She stood silently and waited expectantly.
The other woman began hesitantly, “It is as this woman stated. My daughter had 3 sons; the first born will go to his clan, the second born to mine. My daughter died in childbirth and will have no more children. The third born son should work on my behalf. Her son can marry again and have more sons. My daughter will never have any more children.”
The wise man asked the first petitioner, “Is this true? The mother of the sons died?”
The first woman nodded, “Yes, however that does not change the fact that the third born son historically goes to the father’s clan.”
The second woman, with tears in her eyes pleaded, “this is the last grandson I will ever have from this daughter.”
“Did you bring the child with you?” the wise man asked.
Both women nodded. “Then bring the child here,” and then he gestured to one of the ornate guards flanking him, “Do you have a sharp sword?” The guard nodded and removed one of his swords and bowed handing the sword handle first to the wise man.
The baby was produced and brought up by a handmaiden and placed on the ground before them.
“Is this the child?” the wise man asked, looking at both. They looked at the wise man, the sword and the baby. Both nodded yes.
“Since you cannot agree, you shall both have half.” The wise man raised the sword and watched the reactions of both.
The first woman said, “Do it, I will not leave without my half.” The second look horrified and fell on her face before the wise man. “Please sir, do not kill my grandson. Take my life instead! It is better that he live, even if I have to give me life for him.”
The wise man looked kindly at her and lowered the sword; gesturing at the guard and handing it back to him handle first.
He glared at the first petitioner, “You would rather let this child die than let him go to this other woman?” The first petitioner nodded, “It is only fair.”
He smiled at the second woman and asked her to arise, “You would give your life for this infant, you will treat him as he deserves. You are willing to give your life to save his, this is true love. The child is yours.”
The first woman started to protest, until the guards ringing the courtyard put their hands on the hilts of their swords. “You agreed my decision would be legal and binding. If you ever try to cause any harm to this clan due to this decision, you will be facing the swords of those around me.” The wise man warned.
The second woman arose clasping the infant to her chest and thanked him profusely.
JT agreed the man was very wise, and stayed around to watch the wise man judge.
QOTD: Do you recognize the scripture this refers to? Do you see legalism vs mercy in this story?
The answer to last weeks’ story: Jesus Trek – Chapter 15 – The House and its Builders (1st Corinthians 12: 12-26)
To read the introduction to this series please click HERE