In the time of King David, a Jew once made a party where the main dish was made with hard-boiled eggs.

One of the guests, seemingly very hungry, ate his portion very quickly. When he looked around and saw that the other guests had hardly begun to eat their portion, he felt embarrassed. Quietly he asked his neighbor if he would lend him one of his eggs.

His neighbor answered, "Sure, but on condition that you repay me with an egg within three days. And, mind you, if you do not repay me by then, you will have to pay me any income that might add up from the egg until the time of the payment."

The hungry guest, hardly paying attention to the mans words, agreed.

As luck would have it, he forgot all about the egg that he borrowed. In the meantime the lender went away on a long journey.

It was some years later that the lender turned up one day at the house of the man who borrowed the egg, and said to him:

"I have just returned from a long trip, and you have not yet repaid your debt! You are going to pay heavily for your negligence. You see, had you paid me back in time, I would have put the egg to be hatched, and would have had a chicken. The chicken would have grown and would begin to lay eggssay about eighteen eggs the first year. These would have hatched and produced eighteen more egg-layers. Now each of these would lay eighteen eggs by the end of the following year, each of which would produce a chicken. Are you following me?"

The borrower grasped his head in his hands in horror! He had never dreamed that the one egg he borrowed would create such a huge debt, and get him into such trouble!

After much argument, they agreed that the only way to settle the matter was to take it before King David, and let him decide.

On one of the days when the king held court, the two disputants appeared before him. The claimant set forth his claim, relating how he had lent an egg to his neighbor, clearly stating the conditions. The defendant agreed that it was true he had agreed to the conditions, but he had never imagined that it would come to that. Besides, he had forgotten about the whole thing, and the lender had never once reminded him about it. He further questioned whether the lender had a right to make such a condition in the first place. After all, when a Jew does a favor to another Jews, should he make a profit on it?

But the claimant retorted: "I was away all this time; should I have come back specially to remind him about his debt? In any case, no one forced him to accept my conditions! It was his own greediness that got him into this mess. He should have considered that it is better to eat less and owe less, and that to borrow leads to sorrow!"

King David listened patiently as the two men argued back and forth. Finally, he gave the matter some thought, and told them to return the following day, when he would give them his answer.

The men left. The claimant felt sure that he had a strong case, while the defendant felt downhearted and blamed himself for his trouble. "If I lose the case, he said to himself, it will serve me right for being so greedy for a silly egg; for being stupid not to pay attention to the condition of the loan; and for forgetting all about it. . . ."

As he walked along the royal courtyard in this depressed mood, he felt someone tug at his sleeve. He turned around and saw a lively young boy, whom he recognized as little Shlomo, the ten year-old son of King David.

Shlomo loved to sit some distance away from his father when people came to him with their problems or disputes. Little Shlomo had been there when the two men presented their case before his father about the borrowed egg. He listened attentively to their arguments, and he was surprised that his father had not found the proper solution right away, as he usually did, but rather told them to return the following day.

"Sir," little Shlomo said, "I heard you telling my father the story about the egg. I have a suggestion for you, which I think will easily settle your difficulty. Now this is what I suggest you do: Buy a pot of green peas, cook them and dry them. Early tomorrow morning, while my father is riding in his carriage with his attendants, be sure to place yourself in the field off the road and get busy planting the green peas. As this is not the season for planting, my father will wonder what you are doing. He will call you over and ask you what you are planting at this time of the year, and you will tell him, Cooked peas, Your Majesty. This will naturally cause them all to laugh, and my father will surely say, Since when can anything grow from cooked peas? To which you will reply: If a chicken can be hatched from a hard-boiled egg, why shouldnt it be possible to have something grow from cooked peas?"

The borrower of the hard-boiled egg readily carried out little Shlomos advice.

The following morning, when King David noticed the man sowing something in the field, he sent for him and asked him what he was sowing at the time of harvesting.

"Cooked peas, Your Majesty," the man promptly replied.

The king laughed and said, "Do you really believe something will grow out of cooked peas?"

"And why not, Your Majesty? If it is possible for a hard-boiled egg to produce a chicken, why shouldnt something good grow out of cooked peas?"

The smile disappeared from King Davids face. He recognized the man as the defendant in the dispute that had come before him the previous day. Yes, it was a boiled egg that was in question. A boiled egg had been borrowed, and a boiled egg had to be repaid in settlement of the debt. And, of course, boiled eggs do not produce chickens, so the claimant could claim nothing more than a boiled egg!

And that was the verdict he gave the two men in the dispute, adding, "I am sure you will be happy not to have to pay anything he didn't owe, and the claimant will be happy not to take anything which did not belong to him."

Then as all the people who were assembled in the court applauded his wise decision, King David raised his hand for silence, and said:

"The credit for this decision is not due to me. I have learned that it was my young son Shlomo who suggested this wise solution to the problem before us!"

The story of the case of the hard-boiled egg, and how young Shlomo solved the problem, quickly spread throughout the Land of Israel. People thanked the Almighty for having blessed their king with such a wise son and heir, who would be a worthy successor to his great father, David, King of Israel.