According to 1 Kings 3:16-28, two prostitutes came to Solomon for a judgment over their dispute concerning a child.

Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him... Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.

If prostitution was illegal (more specifically, if sex outside marriage is condemned by God), why were they willing (perhaps even comfortable) coming to the king and admitting to be prostitutes?

One of our assumptions must be false. Which ones?

So, what's the explanation?

In fact, one of the highly voted answer in this site, claim that sex outside marriage is never prohibited at all.

There is no evidence that pre-marital sex is an instance of porneia, nor is there any prohibition of responsible pre-marital sex stated in Scripture. What's is the case for premarital sex being an instance of πορνεία (porneia)?

I need factual answers. For example, if some says that prostitution is illegal but by God's grace, prostitutes deserve justice and come to Solomon, then I would need to see more evidences. Perhaps, some historians could tell that prostitution is indeed illegal during 2500 ago in Israel with penalty of stoning or what, etc and somehow the Solomon didn't punish the prostitutes that come to him despite knowing full well what their jobs are. I wonder if it's likely?

  • There are different types of laws in the Torah as there are in society today. One must make a distinction between moral laws, ordinances, and civil laws that are made in the Torah. Also, what Scripture are you speaking about specifically? Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 13:24
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    I have given you a down vote, because your question defies one of the 10 commandments Deuteronomy 5:18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
    – BYE
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 14:53
  • What does adultery (screwing someone else' wife) have anything to do with prostitution (getting paid for having sex)?
    – user4234
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 15:54
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    This seems to be valid question and is misunderstood because it is not worded properly. The question is something like this: Two robbers are fighting over their booty which they robbed overnight. They come to their King, who is also judge and ask for justice from him in deciding who can take that booty. So here instead of arresting these robbers how can judge give his decision on ownership of the booty? Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 4:17
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    what are you asking? are you asking if Solomon broke laws? are you asking if Solomon was acting on some law or rule by not calling them out on their law breaking habits? are you asking about what kind of ruler Solomon was? you ask many questions here which one is the question for this question?
    – Malachi
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


This question is predicated on completely faulty assumption - namely that criminals do not come to the palace to seek justice. At that time, the King was also the judge, and the judge was specifically ordered to give justice to all.

The prophets are replete with invective against those hypocritical government officials who would only seek justice for those on top of society. As just one example, Amos goes out of his way to say that Israel is under the same condemnation as its neighbors. Leviticus demands one law for you and the alien in your midst - again, fairness for everyone. When the Scripture commands that the judge give justice to the poor as well as to the widow and the orphan, the clear indication is that justice shouldn't depend on your status in society. Indeed, for many at the time, the poor and the criminal would have occupied similar places in the mind.

Thus, when two women of whatever station came to Solomon, asking for justice in regards to the one living child, Solomon, in the wisdom that God gave him, would necessarily give justice to anyone who came to seek it. What these women were outside of this case is 100% irrelevant in the face of a God who sees all in place of judgement, all who are unworthy.

As Isaiah says, "All we like sheep have gone astray, each to our devices" and "all our righteousness is as filthy rags."

As Judah says to Tamar - a woman who has played the prostitute and slept with her own father-in-law (him!) in order to get pregnant, "You are more righteous than I!"

And, as Jesus, who modelled this radical love showed, justice belongs even to the prostitutes and even worse, the tax collectors. After all, those who are healthy do not need the Great Physician. But our God showed his love for us in this - while we were yet sinners he died for us.

Note: convicted criminals use courts all the time.

and in this instance an Iowa man called the cops when he was stiffed in a drug deal. Google "criminals do stupid things" for more results.

Directly to the question, however:

  1. Prostitution was illegal under Jewish law, as per Deuteronomy 23:18
  2. Prostitution was rather common however.
  3. This toleration of an otherwise illegal activity, merely supports what is written above - namely that prostitutes would have been legally culpable and socially marginalized, but that justice demanded that they be heard in spite of their status.
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    My 500th answer. I love this place Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 14:26
  • Well done! Hate having to vote you up for it after losing all my points but excellent answer. Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 15:56
  • So what you are trying to say is that those prostitutes are criminal. People know it. They come the palace and don't get punished. Can anyone confirm that it's true? That prostitutes are criminal historically during Solomon era?
    – user4234
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 15:56
  • @SharenEayrs I'm not understanding your comment. You were saying '{people who sin} can't get justice' and you were using the term criminal. I am saying, that's just silly - we're all guilty before God, and we are all still entitled to justice. Your question is nonsensical at best and based on heresy at worst. Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 18:29
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    I am not asking whether prostitutes should be excluded from justice or not. I am asking whether going to a king for justice is a reasonably practical way in ancient Israel. Should drug lords settle their disputes in court? Could be. Do they? No.
    – user4234
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 0:40

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