Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary


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An enigmatic or puzzling statement, often based on the clever use of the ambiguities of language. The classic biblical example of a riddle is that posed by Samson to the Philistines. The riddle is in poetic form (Judges 14:12-14 ), and the question, “What is it?,” is implied. The Philistines reply is in the form of another riddle (Judges 14:18 ) whose original answer was probably “love.” Samson's retort may reflect yet another commonly known, and rather risque, riddle (Judges 14:18 ).

The Hebrew word for riddle also appears elsewhere in the Old Testament. The Lord spoke with Moses directly, not in “riddles” (Numbers 12:8 NIV, REB, NRSV) or “dark speech” (KJV, NAS). The Queen of Sheba tested Solomon with “hard questions” or riddles ( 1 Kings 10:1-13 ). Riddles were a form of poetic expression (Psalm 49:4 ); a mark of wisdom was the ability to solve them (Proverbs 1:6 ). Daniel had such wisdom (Daniel 5:12 ). Daniel C. Browning, Jr.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Riddle'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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