AND [remember] David and Solomon - [how it was] when both of them gave judgment concerning the field into which some people's sheep had strayed by night and pastured therein, and [how] We bore witness to their judgment:70
For an elucidation of the story - or, rather, legend - to which the above verse alludes, we must rely exclusively on the Companions of the Prophet, since neither the Qur'an nor any authentic saying of the Prophet speels it out to us. However, the fact that a good many Companions and their immediate successors (tabi'un) fully agreed on the substance of the story, differing only in one or two insignificant details' seems to indicate that at that period it was already well-established in ancient Arabian tradition (cf. note  below). According to this story, a flock of sheep strayed at night into a neighbouring field and destroyed its crop. The case was brought before King David for judicial decision. On finding that the incident was due to the negligence of the owner of the sheep, David awarded the whole flock - the value of which corresponded roughly to the extent of the damage - as an indemnity to the owner of the field. David's young son, Solomon, regarded this judgement as too severe, inasmuch as the sheep represented the defendant's capital, whereas the damage was of a transitory nature, involving no more than the loss of one year's crop, i.e., of income. He therefore suggested to his father that the judgement should be altered: the owner of the field should have the temporary possession and usufruct of the sheep (sheep, wool, new-born lambs, etc.), while their owner should tend the damaged field until it was restored to its former productivity, whereupon both the field and the flock of sheep would revert to their erstwhile owners; in this way the plaintiff would be fully compensated for his loss without depriving the defendant of his substance. David realized taht his son'd solution of the case was better than his own, and passed judgement accordingly; but since he, no less than Solomon, had been inspired by a deep sense of justice, God - in the words of the Qur'an - "bore witness to their judgement".