THE place which the Solomon Riddles occupy in the literature of almost every nation suggested to me that the publication of a previously inedited Hebrew text on the subject, with an English translation and a few introductory and explanatory remarks, will not be without interest to the readers of Folk-lore.
As to the Hebrew text, it is edited for the first time from the Midrash Hachephez, existing only in Yemen MSS., of which the British Museum has four copies, bearing the press marks Oriental 2351 and Or. 2380-82. Our copy is prepared from Or. 2382. The MSS. vary very little, and the only essential variation we found we have inserted in its place. The Bodleian (see Dr. Neubauer’s Catalogue, No. 2492) and the Royal Library in Berlin also possess copies of this Midrash. In the catalogue of the latter, by Dr. Steinschneider, p. 71, a full description is given of this work, and we see there that its compiler, Yachya Ben Sulieman, wrote as late as 1430. The new version of the Riddles, which we give here, would accordingly have no claim to any great antiquity. But, on the other hand, it has been proved already, at least with regard to other Midrashic collections coming from Yemen, that the Jews in this country were, up to a comparatively late date, in possession of very ancient Rabbinic sources, which had long before disappeared among their coreligionists in Europe. Thus the late age of the compiler would not prove much against the antiquity of his version of the legend…
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