If you missed part 7, here is the link: https://pmgilmer.com/2017/11/25/my-name-is-hadesh-part-7-by-p-m-gilmer/
From part 7: I jumped up before he could change his mind or realize he had the wrong person. I started to follow him, then realized Jemima hadn’t moved.
“Come on,” I hissed.
I thought she would turn and run, but, fortunately, Huppim was behind her, and he happily began to escort her into the king’s throne room.
Many times through the years when I have been telling this story, someone wants to know what I thought of the throne room and King Solomon’s throne. I remind them my visit took place early in King Solomon’s reign before he built his new palace, so the palace we saw was that of King David. However, a palace is a palace to me. The throne room alone was far larger than any house or shop I had ever been in. I tried not to gawk at my surroundings, and I’m sure if I hadn’t been so upset, scared, and extremely nervous, I would have just stood there and stared at everything. Not just the walls or the throne, but the king himself. I know he’s just a man, but seated there on that throne, I felt as though I had entered into the presence of God. Not trying to be blasphemous, and I hope I’m not, but that’s just how I felt. My knees grew weak as I could only stare at the king for several moments. Fortunately, Muppim kept a steady hand on my arm and moved me forward.
I fell on my face before the king. Jemima, still holding my baby, (though Huppim offered to take him), fell awkwardly to her knees. I suppose neither of us gave a very graceful performance as I heard several snickers among the king’s attendants.
Knowing I’d better speak up before Jemima did, I lifted my head and said, “O King, live forever! Thank you for hearing us, my lord king. I know you’re a a busy man, but our case is too important to leave to your officials. Begging your pardon, my lords,” I added hastily, looking at the group of men standing around the king. I had no idea who any of them were or if they would ever be involved in judgments, but I could not afford to offend anyone. The men only looked back at me without speaking. They mostly looked bored, though one seemed amused by my apology. Looking at him again, I realized he must have been one of the king’s brothers for they looked much alike. Before I could gawk any longer, Muppim cleared his throat behind me.
“Oh, yes–anyway, King Solomon, we have heard of your great wisdom and,” I was about to attempt some flowery compliments about the king and his kindness, judgment, etc., but I could sense he was growing impatient. “And we have come to ask you to judge between us. I am Hadesh, and this,” I waved my hand towards Jemima, “is Jemima, my, um, friend. Well, not really a friend, we work together, we . . .” Seeing the king’s eyebrows go up, I decided not to further explain. I’m sure he had already figured out what we did. “Anyway, we live in the same house, and I had a baby boy a few weeks ago, and Jemima had one three days later. Well, last night we were the only ones at our house, and Jemima’s baby died. I believe she rolled over him–accidentally, of course, though we tried to tell her it wasn’t good for her to keep the babe in the bed with her, but she did it all the time.”
Jemima was bouncing my baby up and down, cooing baby talk to him, but she suddenly stopped and pushed me aside. “No, my lord king! That is not the way of it!”
King Solomon waved a hand at Jemima. “Let her finish. You will have your turn next.”
I know Jemima wanted to argue, but Huppim held tightly to her arm, and she wisely stepped back.
I tried not to look smug, but being humble is not one of my better traits. “As I was saying, my lord king, her baby died–it must have been around midnight as I remember putting my babe to sleep just before then–and she put her baby” (I placed my hand on the sling holding Jemima’s babe) “in my bed with me, then took my own son from the basket where he sleeps. When I woke this morning, I was surprised to find my baby with me as I always put him in his basket after I nurse him, but I thought I had just fallen asleep. So, I tried to nurse him, but . . .” A sob rose in my throat and though some may think I was acting for the king’s benefit, they would be quite wrong. As I remembered trying to nurse that poor dead babe, even now knowing he wasn’t mine, great grief rose up in me.
“She is crazy!” Jemima couldn’t stay silent any longer. “She knows this is my babe, but she has gone mad with grief over the loss of her own. I am sorry for her loss, but I will not give up my baby to her!”
I clenched my fists and only kept myself from attacking Jemima because of my baby she was holding, who now began to cry. As he cried, so did I. “Don’t you think I would know my baby’s cry? My baby’s face? As soon as the sun gave me light, I could see the babe I held was not mine. You are the one who is crazy–swapping babies like they are melons at the market. I am sorry you rolled your fat self on your baby and killed him, but I will not let you take mine from me!”
Jemima stepped back from me as Seled began to wail louder. “No!” she screeched over the howls of my son. “This baby is mine! Your baby died!”
By now, every person in King Solomon’s court stood watching us with rapt attention. A part of me realized this exhibition Jemima and I were putting on would probably not help my cause, but I could not seem to help myself. I would not leave here without the king’s judgment, and if he ruled in favor of Jemima, it mattered not to me if he had me taken away and thrown out of the city as a mad woman.
Breathing heavily, Jemima stared at me, then turned to the king. “Please, my lord king. You can see how this woman has lost her mind. Just let me leave now with my baby, and I promise I will trouble you no longer.” She tried to shush Seled who was surely hungry and scared. Huppim reached over to pat my baby, crooning softly to him.
I fell back to my knees. “Please, my lord king. You must believe me. I would not try to take a baby that was not mine, but I cannot live knowing he has been stolen from me.”
Before Jemima could further dispute my claim, the king stood up. I could hardly breathe, looking up at him and wondering what he would say. Without looking at either of us, he raised a hand and called to one of his guards standing by the door. “Japhlet! Bring me a sword!”
The guard came forward, holding a sword in his hand. I stood to my feet and glanced at Jemima who looked as bewildered and scared as I felt. Would he just kill us both for causing such a ruckus in his throne room?
The king did not take the sword, but looked around the room at all who waited to hear his judgment. No one made a sound and all eyes were on him.
“You have heard the testimonies of these two women and the spirit in which they were given. Both claim the living child is theirs and the dead child the other’s. Since they cannot come to an agreement on their own, but have brought this problem to the throne, I must step in and resolve it. Japhlet, take the living baby and cut him in half. Give each woman half of the baby.”
Japhlet moved to take the baby from Jemima, and I fell to my knees again, this time in horror.
“No, my lord!” I wailed, my terror rising now as Jemima handed over my baby with what seemed like glee. “Please! I beg you! Give her the living baby, but don’t kill him!”
Japhlet took my baby, cradling him against his chest. Jemima smirked at me. “Now, he shall be neither mine nor yours! Divide him then!”
Japhlet laid the baby at the king’s feet and raised his sword. Gasps echoed around the room, and I could no longer breathe. The king held up his arm.
“Stop!” He looked around at all of us. “You have seen the reactions of these two women. The first, Hadesh, cares and fears for the child while the other, Jemima, only cares to have a ruling in her favor. Do not hurt the child, but give her to Hadesh because she is obviously the true mother.”
I thought I would faint with relief as the crowd laughed and cheered. Japhlet picked my baby back up and brought him over to me. Still crying, but now with joy and relief, I took my baby and covered him with kisses. I looked back up at the king. “Thank you, my lord. Oh, thank you! Truly what is said is true–God has gifted you with great wisdom. May your reign be long and prosperous.”
Soli Deo Gloria