Can you answer the ancient riddle:
What has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?
The answer is - man, who crawls on all fours when a baby, stands erect on two feet, and in old age walks with a cane.
Another ancient riddle was:
What flies forever and rests never?
The answer is - the wind.
A Medieval riddle was:
What is it that never was and never will be?
The answer - a mouse's nest in a cat's ear.
Riddles in earlier times were, like these, of a more serious nature, in contrast to today when they are more child oriented humor. Their former seriousness was evidenced by the death of the great Greek poet Homer, who is said to have died of humiliation because he could not answer a riddle (The World Book Encyclopedia).
One of the oldest recorded riddles, holding a prize for its answer, was one posed by Samson, found in Judges 14. It was equally taken very serious. At his wedding, Samson propounded to his thirty Philistine companions the following difficult riddle:
"Out of the eater came something to eat,
And out of the strong came something sweet."
Samson's companions would never have concluded the answer to this riddle, had they not forced his wife to press him for it. And force they did with threats of a consuming fire, for a prize was at stake. On the seventh and final day allotted to the thirty to discern the riddle, they answered him:
"What is sweeter than honey?
And what is stronger than a lion?"
This riddle pertained to an event involving Samson. On his way to his wedding, he had eaten honey from the carcass of a lion which he had previously slain with his bare hands.
Who could have ever discerned Samson's riddle, had he not revealed its answer to his persistent new bride? His response to the Philistines upon their answering the riddle was even a riddle with a more obvious answer:
"If you had not plowed with my heifer,
You would not have found out my riddle."
We find in the Scriptures that the propounding of riddles, and their related proverbs, are not limited to the skill and use of man. In Ezekiel 17:2f, Yahweh declared to Ezekiel:
"Son of man, propound a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel, saying ...."
This riddle/parable propounded by Yahweh involved a great eagle that came down and took away the top of a cedar tree, and then planted seed in fertile soil.
The riddle/parable association seen here in Ezekiel is found in other locations in the Scriptures as well. In Psalms 78:2 we read:
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter riddles of old.
And in Psalms 49:4 we similarly read:
I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will open up my riddle on the harp.
Even Solomon's writings were presented in order to gain wisdom and instruction, and:
To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles (Proverbs 1:6).
But of course riddles and parables are not limited to the Old Testament. Yahshua very frequently used parables in His teachings:
"Behold, the sower went out to sow ..." (Mark 4:3),
"A certain man had two sons ..." (Luke 15:11),
"Two men went up into the temple to pray ..." (Luke 18:10),
All these things Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable (Matthew 13:34).
Because of the wording of translations, one might be unaware that Paul noted this quality of Yahweh to express truth to earthly man in riddles. Examining the original Greek text in 1 Corinthians 13:12, we read more literally the following:
For now we see through a mirror in a riddle, but then face to face ....
The difficulty of Yahweh's riddles is then seen in the next statement:
... now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.
Yahshua spoke in parables, evidenced by their great number recorded in the gospels. The question thus remains - Where are these riddles Paul spoke of? We read the many parables; where are the riddles?
Evidenced in the teachings of the Son, revealed in the writings of the Old Testament, and affirmed in the writings of Paul, we find that the nature of Yahweh is to conceal (with the ultimate purpose to reveal) truth in parables and riddles. We will now consider in this writing a marvelous work of Yahweh to present in the Scriptures numerous riddles in a most unusual and concealed fashion. Once the framing of these riddles is discovered, we find that the Scriptures contain many of them - revealing a most complex and highly unique nature of Yahweh.
Yahweh has propounded some of the most marvelous riddles, yet apart from "plowing with His heifer" they are otherwise hidden; hidden not only in their answer, but equally hidden in their actual propounding. As King Nebuchadnezzar double hid his dream by calling for "the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and Chaldeans" to tell him both his dream and its interpretation (Daniel 2), even so Yahweh has double hidden His riddles - both the propoundings as well as the answers. Thus, Yahweh is equally asking - You discover the riddle and its meaning! Why would He do this? For the same reason Nebuchadnezzar's dream was hidden - in order to reveal and establish His "Daniel." As with Joseph, who was elevated to be ruler over Egypt by the interpretation of a riddle dream, Daniel was likewise elevated to be ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as personally over the wise men, by both the revelation and the interpretation of a riddle dream.
We find that this entire course of riddles is hidden by Yahweh, hidden in the absurdity of contradictions in the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 tells us that "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God." This choice of the "foolish," the "weak," the "despised" is most certainly what Yahweh has used in propounding these contradiction riddles.
Because of the natural tendency of men to ignore uncomfortable or unknown issues, you are probably unaware of these contradictions. Instead, men write books or insert as a Bible help an analysis of the Harmony of the Gospels. This understandingly one-sided analysis gives one the false impression that the gospels are totally harmonious. But has anyone written anything on the Disharmony of the Gospels? Actually, it would prove to be quite interesting. We will consider a few of these disharmonies, not only in the gospels but also in the Old Testament.
In the gospels we find clear discrepancies between these four accounts. Though some would seek to dismiss, ignore, or even try to explain away these differences, the fact is there are some glaring contradictions. To call them anything but contradictions is naive. We will consider a few of these shortly as Yahweh's propounded riddles, but before doing this, a comment must be made concerning the infallibility of God's word.
If I were to ask you if the Bible is the written word of God, more than likely you would respond with an emphatic "yes." Most Christians believe that the Scriptures were written by men under the anointing and unction of the Holy Spirit, thus providing to man God's written word. But, when contradictions in His word are presented, most respond that these are simply the differences created from the recollection of men. A common response is that if there was an automobile accident, then different observers would contribute slightly differing accounts on the one and same event. Quite so, but there is one important distinction - we are not here talking about the mere words or accountings of men! The Bible is the acclaimed word of God, and any differing accounts either demise the authenticity of the words as God's, or one must conclude that the differences are intentional and bear a uniquely hidden meaning. Holding to these two divergent opinions that the Bible is both God's written word, as well as the unplanned fallacies of the accounts of men, is to espouse two ideas that are in conflict. Either the Bible is entirely intentional as God's infallible written word, or it is not.
For one to truly hold to the trust and belief that the Bible is God's word, then one must conclude that the contradictions hold very special meaning. If the Holy Spirit wrote the gospels, then the contradictions are intentional and meaningful - a meaning that, one, must include repeatable consistency in its representation and interpretation, and two, must be of tremendously great significance since Yahweh, once again, has hidden His truth from the multitudes in order to reveal His "Daniel."
This latter position is precisely what this writer has found to be true. Yahweh's word is entirely perfect in content, entirely perfect in construction, and the contradictions are intentional riddles that confound and shame the wise by their appearance as meaningless errors.
Before going on, a word should be mentioned with regard to the duality of this sight that Paul said opportunes us - "through a mirror in a riddle." We have already considered the role of "a riddle" in the ways of Yahweh; let us briefly consider what this "through a mirror" means.
First we ask the question - What is a mirror? A mirror is an object that reflects an image. The reflected image is not the reality, though it represents in appearance something that is reality. One could say that in a mirror, like reflects reality; or, adding the fourth dimension of time, like reflects ultimate reality. This is what Yahweh provides by foreshadowing future events through past events, or through the writings of the Scriptures concerning past events - He provides mirror images of that which will be. As written by Solomon - "That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). These mirror images are reflections of that which will take place in the future.
These mirror images of that which will be are equally "riddles," particularly difficult riddles when trying to see or understand what will occur in the yet to come reality, the true image. Thus, when Paul wrote that "we see through a mirror in a riddle," we must understand that two issues are being spoken of - the foreshadowing mirror image, as well as the riddle it presents. Unfortunately, though men have recognized the quality of Yahweh to provide foreshadowing mirror images of that which has already occurred (e.g., the first coming of Christ) or even that which is to come, up to now men have not perceived or understood many of His riddles. This is especially true of the strange and hidden mirror images found in contradictions.
Having said all of this, let us now consider some of the riddles Yahweh has propounded from His perfect, extraordinary, and uniquely constructed word.
Continue to page 2 of Riddles for BIBLE RIDDLES
E-mail me and I'll let you know of forthcoming writings as they are published here.
Return to home page