The ancient log riddle revealed.

King Solomon is best known for his wisdom. wealth, and wives. He also had a great talent to solve riddles and purportedly gambled huge sums in a game of riddle solving with King Hiram of Tyre. Legend is that King Hiram employed a wise man Abdemon to help him solve King Solomon’s riddles to lessen his losses. Interest in riddles in ancient times was considered to be an attribute of wisdom and might be compared in popularity to our modern mind stimulating crossword puzzles. 

In a novel excerpt below is one example of a riddle presented to King Solomon by the Queen of Sheba. The novel is a contemporary application of a story form to promote understanding of proverbs and ancient wise sayings in relation to our modern times.


We now laughed together again as in our very first meeting. As our conversation became even more light hearted, we decided to try to solve the cedar log riddle presented by King Hiram.

Bilqis instructed her servant to bring in the log and set it upon our table. We carefully examined the log. No bark remained on the log, which measured two circular hands wide and four foot long. Each side of the log had a marking engraved to identify the two ends of the log.

We carefully examined the grain formations on each side for a clue to determine the riddle of which side of the log was the root side and which side was the top end. The tight grain formations appeared identical. After a few minutes, I reasoned out the answer but said nothing to allow Bilqis more time to try to solve the riddle.

I poured more wine into our glasses and proposed another toast. “To my good friend, King Hiram and his cedar log.”

Bilqis answered with another toast. “May we solve this riddle before I have another glass of wine?” She exaggerated her statement to mimic the wine was beginning to effect her reasoning.

I smiled in recognition of her tone but remained silent as I continued to appraise the log when in fact I was enjoying being close and secretly admiring the beautiful Bilqis. She smilingly studied the log and then voiced various possibilities in a conjured lighthearted tone.

“Well Solomon, the grains on the log and the lack of bark offer no clues to solve the riddle. I guess the only thing left to do is to just throw Hiram’s log in the water and watch it float.” She suddenly announced while smiling and laughing.

I starred in silence and surprise at Bilqis for a few moments for a second time this night. Bilqis had somehow arrived at the same answer I had already concluded. Being familiar with my studies of plants, I knew that the root side would be denser than the branch side and the result of sinking the log first and watch it reappear would be that the branch side would float up first to the surface.

Source: Chapter 36

As A Lily Among Thorns – A Story of King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and the Goddess of Wisdom 

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