Puzzles/Riddles

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Puzzles - Riddles

Generally, a riddle is a sort of puzzle in which one is asked a question and makes attempts to come to an answer. A riddle can be a puzzling question, a hypothetical problem to be solved, or what is often also referred to as a thought experiment. Often, posing riddles can be used for other purposes than puzzlement, like the famous hangman's riddles, as well as for argumentative or political ends, where the answer is not so much a mystery but is presented as though it were. There are many types of riddles depending on their structure, their format, and what methods of thinking they require to solve. Many riddles are tricky, in that they manipulate language or common thought processes to make the answer seem less clear, like garden path riddles. The largest category of riddles are identity riddles, in which a common object or other phenomenon is described, and the solution is to correctly identify what that common object is by naming it. This is often used in educational settings as well as children's learning rhymes.

Below are the some of the more commonly known puzzles in existence.

The Riddle of the Sphinx[edit]

The Secret Teaching of All Ages - Chapter 6 - Sphinx.jpg

Perhaps one of the most famous or perhaps the most well known riddles are The Riddle of the Sphinx.
As humankind’s earliest puzzle, it is among the ten greatest of all time. This is the first known recorded puzzle in the human history that are coming out of from that very legend.

Legend has it that a similarly enormous sphinx guarded the entrance to the ancient city of Thebes. According to legend, when mythical Greek king Oedipus approached the city of Thebes, he encountered a gigantic sphinx ( a mythology beast with human face with the body of lion) guarding the entrance to the city. The menacing beast confronted the mythic king and posed the following riddle to him, warning that if he failed to answer it correctly, he would die instantly at the sphinx’s hands.

The Sphinx ask Oedipus:
What has four feet in the morning, two at noon, and three at night?

Oedipus , after thinking for the moments answered,
“The answer is humans, who crawl on all fours as babies (morning), then walk on two legs as grown-ups (noon), and finally need a cane in old age (night) to get around.”

Upon hearing the correct answer, the astonished sphinx killed itself, and Oedipus entered Thebes as the hero for ridding the city of the terrible monster that had kept it captive for so long.

The Riddle of the Sphinx is considered to be the prototype for all riddles. It is intentionally constructed to harbor a non-obvious answer:namely, that life’s three phases of infancy, adulthood,and old age are comparable, respectively, to the three phases of a day (morning, noon, and night). Its function in the Oedipus story, moreover, suggests that puzzles may have originated as tests of intelligence and thus as probes of human mentality.

The Samson’s Marriage Riddle[edit]

Albrecht Dürer - Samson Killing the Lion - WGA7125.jpg

The another examples are from the biblical story of Samson's Marriage Riddle. At his wedding feast, Samson, obviously wanting to impress the relatives of his wife-to-be, posed the following riddle to his Philistine guests. If they could given him answer to the riddles, he will gives them thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes and vice versa will happened if they couldn't answer.

Judges 14:14
Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness.

Samson contrived his riddle to describe something that he once witnessed: A swarm of bees that made honey in a lion’s carcass.
Hence, the wording of the riddle: the “eater” =“swarm of bees”; “the strong” = the “lion”; and “came forth sweetness” =“made honey.”

The deceitful guests, however, took advantage of the seven days to coerce the answer from Samson’s wife. When they gave Samson the correct response,
Judge 14:18
“What is sweeter than honey?, What is stronger than a lion?”

The mighty biblical hero became enraged, returned his newly wed wives to her family members and declared war against all Philistines which will led to his eventual downfall.

From this examples, yet again, we can see that the usage of riddles since the ancient time to test of one's intellect.


The riddle of King Solomon and Queen Sheba[edit]

Queen of Sheba visits Solomon.jpg

In this story of The riddle of King Solomon and Queen Sheba, the biblical Queen Sheba upon hearing the wisdom of King Solomon,pay a visit to the King himself and organize riddle contests simply for the pleasure of outwitting each other.

The Queen Sheba asked King Solomon the first riddle:
“What are the seven that issue and nine that enter, the two that offer drink, and the one that drinks”
King Solomon answered:
"The seven that issue are the seven days of menstrual impurity. The nine that enter are the nine months of pregnancy. The two that offer drink are the breasts, and the child is the one who drinks."


Stunned by his answer, Queen Sheba asked him the second riddles:
“How can a woman say to her son: ‘Your father is my father; your grandfather, my husband; you are my son, and I am your sister ”
Again King Solomon answered:
“The two daughters of Lot” (In the Hebrew literature story, Lot is daughter who became pregnant by their father,Haran and bore sons).


For the third riddle, Queen Sheba brought up 2 children who are of same facial feature, same height, same attire. She asked
“Distinguish between the males and the females.”
King Solomon made a sign to his eunuchs, who brought him nuts and roasted ears of corn, which they scattered before the children. The males, who were not bashful, collected them and tied them within the hems of their garments. The girls, however, were bashful (since their bodies would be revealed if they were to tie their undergarments) and therefore tied them within their outer garments.

Therefore, King Solomon commented: "These are the males, and these are the females"

Again dumbfounded by King Solomon wisdom, for the final riddles, she bought out a group of people circumcised and uncircumcised . Again, she riddled King Solomon “Distinguish between the circumcised and the uncircumcised.”
King Solomon immediately made a sign to the High Priest to open the Ark of the Covenant.
Within moments of opening of the Ark, whose who were circumcised stood or bowed their bodies to half their height, while their countenances were filled with the radiance of the Shekhinah. The uncircumcised, however, fell on their faces.

In this story, we could see that riddles is sometimes presented as a practical problem to be solved as seen in the last two of the riddles posed by Queen Sheba.


Nursery Rhyme's: Old Mother Twitchett[edit]

Imagine... (5384600558).jpg

In other cultures, such as in Western countries, we can find riddles in unexpected places such as children nursery rhymes. Here are one of the more popular ones: These are particular riddle disguised as nursery rhyme that sound like this:

Old mother Twitchett had one eye,
and a long tail which she let fly,
and every time she went over a gap,
she left a bit of her tail in a trap.

The answer is of course needle and thread

Bibliography[edit]