An old Arab died and left 17 camels to his three sons. The terms of his will were explicit. One-half of the camels were to be given to the eldest son, one-third to the middle son, and one-ninth to the youngest son. The sons were greatly perplexed, since seventeen cannot be divided equally by two, three, or nine.
As they were pondering how they might appropriately divide up their inheritance without spilling either their own blood or that of their camels, a neighbor came to their aid.
“I will lend you my camel,” he said. There were now eighteen camels.
The eldest son took one-half (nine camels); the middle son took one-third (six camels); and the youngest son took one-ninth (two camels). Nine plus six plus two totaled seventeen (9+6+2=17), and the neighbor took back his eighteenth camel.