Solomon And The Garlands

Once the Queen of Sheba, attracted by King Solomon’s fame, paid a visit to his court. She wished to see the splendours of his court. She had heard that the king’s speech was full of learning and wisdom and that he used to teach valuable lessons through proverbs. She was curious to know if what she had heard was true. She had also heard of his uncanny ability to solve the most difficult puzzles, which she meant to test.

The Queen of Sheba held two beautiful garlands of flowers, one in the right hand and one in the left. The flowers in one hand were real and those in the other artificial. “Which is the true garland,” she asked, “And which is the false one?”

The King was silent. The courtiers doubted whether he would be able to solve the riddle. Solomon kept gazing at the garlands in apparent bewilderment. “Which is the true garland?” The queen asked again. “Such a trivial thing ought not to task so wise a head.” The wisest of men was still silent.

While he was pondering, he noticed a swarm of bees bustling about a withered rose by the window. “Open the window,” the King said. As soon as the window was opened, the bees flew in and settled on the flowers in her right hand. It was clear that the garland in her right hand was the true one. The queen stood impressed.

Often the obvious answers evade us. Presence of mind is needed to use the resources in hand.