Enigma 265: The parable of the wise fool
14 March 2015
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From New Scientist #1412, 31st May 1984 [link]
And in the evening it came to pass that the father summoned his four sons from the field and said unto them, “You have all found favour in my sight. My store is greater by two and twenty sacks of corn”.
Then spake Absalom to his father saying, “Father thou has told me that I did fill more sacks than any of my brothers. Give me therefore the reward, for I am the most worthy”. And the father rebuked Absalom saying, “Thy worth is no greater than thy brothers for each gave of his best, yet no two of you did fill the same number of sacks. Let instead the reward be to him who showeth the greatest wisdom”.
And he said unto Absalom, “Tell me how many sacks did each of thy brothers fill?” And Absalom knew not.
And he said unto Benjamin, “Thy sacks and the sacks of thy brother Caleb did together equal the sacks of Absalom. How many were the sacks of Caleb?” And Benjamin knew not.
And Caleb hearing these things yet did not know the sacks of Benjamin.
Then spake David saying, “Father, thou hast known me as a fool in the shadow of my brothers, yet if I may assume them to be perfect in the ways of logic and deduction then even I can give thee the numbers”. And he spake truly and was rewarded. And his father said: “Verily the fool who listens well with receive wisdom”.
If Benjamin didn’t bring back the fewest sacks, what was David’s answer?
This is the 800th Enigma puzzle to go up on the site. In total just under 45% of all Enigmas published are now available (there are about 980 to go).