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 (Psalms 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.