KING SOLOMON’S RING
There is a story about King Solomon’s magic ring, given to him by an angel. This ring was all-purpose. Its powers enabled Solomon to engage in conversation with animals, spirits of all kinds, and to predict the weather. Whether his intelligence was innate or came from the ring is unknown, but there wasn’t a language he didn’t speak, and in addition to his linguistic affinities he was considered an exceptional mediator of disputes. Because of this ring the moon stopped in its tracks and remained full while the king, for whom time did not stop, traveled on a green and gold carpet sixty miles long. Thanks to the ring Solomon was able to subdue demons if not rid the world of them completely. Tamed demons, for example, were put to work fetching water from India to irrigate his gardens back in Jerusalem, so at least they were kept busy engaged in non- destructive if needlessly circuitous pursuits.
King Solomon was not perfect, he had his flaws that even the ring couldn’t mitigate. He had too many wives, too many horses, too many riches, and he enjoyed debating the demon king, Ashmedai. He derived so much pleasure from their debates that he refused to free the demon even when his term of service came to an end. Ashmedai, sometimes depicted with wings and a tail, assisted in the completion of the Temple, but when he finished with the task he’d been contracted to do, as far as he was concerned it was time to punch out. Solomon said, too bad, I’ve enjoyed locking antlers, so to speak, and don’t want to give up our disputations. Going back on a promise was not only bad judgment; it was really a terrible mistake. Ashmedai tricked Solomon into letting him try the ring, just for a moment. Why did Solomon fall for this? Perhaps he believed some essence of ringness would stay with him even if the actual metal left his hand, but no sooner was it on the demon’s finger when his chains disappeared. What happened to the ring immediately afterwards is unknown. Some say Ashmedai swallowed it, some say he threw it into the sea. Either way it vanished, and Solomon’s fortunes declined to the point where he was lucky to have a job as a cook in another king’s kitchen. While Ashmedai transformed himself into a double of the king and ruled Israel in his place, the real king wandered around the desert saying, “I used to rule over Israel, now all I rule over is my cane.” Eventually he recovered the ring when his most recent wife found it inside a fish, but life could never be exactly as it had been. He suffered from insomnia and paranoia, requiring sixty guards to stand by his bed. Solomon clung to the ring which had the power to melt his anxiety and depression in a way nothing else could. Inside the ring three Hebrew words were engraved: Gan zu yaavor. This too shall pass.
King Solomon died. Then the ring really did disappear, not to be found again in any fish or washed up on any beach. The kingdom, too, went the way of the ring and was no more.