1091 words Midrash ha-Hefez - Wikipedia

Midrash ha-Ḥefez (midrash of desire / business) is a Hebrew text of 1430 about a wisdom contest between King Solomon and The Queen of Sheba. It is noted as part of a long literary tradition about these figures, and for its inclusion of a number of Hebrew riddles:[1]

  • There is an enclosure with ten doors: when one is open nine are shut; when nine are open, one is shut. — The womb, the bodily orifices, and the umbilical cord.
  • Living, moves not, yet when its head is cut off it moves. — A ship in the sea (made from a tree).
  • What was that which is produced from the ground, yet produces it, while its food is the fruit of the ground? — A wick.

Midrash ha-Hefez is also the title of a book by physician Rabbi Yahya bin Suleiman el-Israili (Zachariah bin Solomon ha-Rofeh), ca. 1430. The work contains homilies and haftarot on the Pentateuch, Book of Esther, and Book of Lamentations, written in a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic. A commentary exists under the name "al-Durra al-Muntakhaba".[2]


  1. ^ Solomon Schechter (1890), "The Riddles of Solomon in Rabbinic Literature", Folk-Lore, 1: 353ff.
  2. ^ "ARABIC LITERATURE OF THE J", Jewish Encyclopedia, 2, 1906, p. 53