Do You Know What Great Deed (or Misdeed) This Bible Character Is Known For?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: numse polak

About This Quiz

The Bible has some great stories -- so good that Hollywood has raided some of them for the plots of movies! (See: "The Ten Commandments," "Jesus of Nazareth," and more). At the center of every great Biblical story is a mighty hero for the Lord, or a rogue who listened to the devil perched on their shoulder. 

It's also worth noting that God -- especially in the Old Testament -- seems to have a soft spot for unlikely heroes, even antiheroes. There's more than one rogue in the scriptures who struggles with a taste for the ladies, or a quick temper, or a streak of skepticism about God's ability to actually carry out His plans. Time and again, the Lord patiently brings these imperfect sinners back to the task at hand. Moses thought he almost certainly wasn't the right man to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Jonah disliked the pagans of Nineveh so much that he literally ran away from God's command to preach to them. He found out the hard way you can't hide from God!

You probably know who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. But the Bible's lesser-known characters are intriguing as well. Who refused to dance for a heathen king -- thus giving a faithful Israelite woman a chance to ascend to queenhood? Who sold his birthright for lentil stew? And who brought down an entire temple on himself and a large number of Philistines? (Hint: He was renowned for his great strength, which, in turn, was based on his never cutting his long locks). 

Can you separate the sheep from the wolves -- and identify what exactly they did to make religious history? Try your luck now!

Who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver?

Judas Iscariot identified Jesus to the high priests who wanted to arrest him. There are two stories about how he died: that he hanged himself, or that he fell to his death in a field that he bought with the silver.


Who killed his brother, becoming humanity's first murderer?

Cain farmed, while Abel was a herder. Abel's sacrifice of animals was acceptable to the Lord, while Cain's, of produce, was not. This led to the jealousy that inspired the murder.


Who ascended to the throne when Queen Vashti refused to "display her beauty" for guests of the king?

Esther became a queen and was in a position to save her people from the wicked Haman. A book of the Bible is named for her.


Who killed a legion of Philistines with the jawbone of an ass?

The feats of Samson are told in the book of Judges. The source of Samson's strength was his long hair -- he was a nazirite, dedicated to God's service.


Who built the ark that saved humanity?

Noah acted on God's command, building the ship with his sons. Archaeological expeditions have actually sought out the remains of such an ark on Mt. Ararat, where, according to popular belief, it landed.


Who led his people out of the land of Egypt?

Moses was spared from an edict that all male Israelite infants should be killed, because his mother placed him in a basket in the river. Thus he survived to be the later leader of his people.


He brought Goliath down with a slingshot and stone.

This is the incident that brings David to Saul's attention. Thereafter, David became part of Saul's entourage and army -- but increasingly, he became a threat to Saul's power as well.


Who lied to a king, saying Sarah was his sister, not his wife?

In this story from Genesis, Abraham is afraid the king will kill him to get Sarah. So he says that she is his sister. He's half telling the truth -- Sarah was Abraham's half-sister.


Who wrestled an angel to a draw?

Jacob could not defeat the angel (in some traditions, believed to be God himself). But neither would he let the angel go until he had given Jacob a blessing.


Who betrayed Samson to the Philistines?

Delilah persuaded Samson to finally tell her the secret of his strength: his long hair. After that, it was easy to have her manservant cut off Samson's hair while he slept, thus stealing his strength.


According to Genesis, he lived an astounding 969 years.

Menthuselah isn't the only man in Genesis's genealogies to have a lifespan much longer than modern humans do. But he *is* the champ, at nearly a millennium.


He didn't die, but was taken up to heaven by God.

Elijah's follower Elisha saw him taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire. Elijah's mantle fell on Elisha, marking him as Elijah's successor.


He led the battle of Jericho.

There's an old Sunday School song about how "Joshua fought the battle of Jericho." Actually, he brought the city walls down just by having the priests blow ram's horns and the people shout.


She killed the military leader Sisera with a tent peg.

This is one of the more unpleasant episodes in the Bible. Technically, there was peace between Sisera and Heber, the husband of Jael, and he sought refuge in Jael's tent. She gave him milk and let him fall asleep, then killed him. So much for the Middle Eastern tradition of hospitality!


He raped his half-sister Tamar, incurring Absalom's anger.

These three were all children of King David. The book of 2 Samuel says that David was angry with Amnon, but would not hurt him, because he was the firstborn (and in line for the throne.)


He wrote many of the psalms, in addition to his other accomplishments.

Remember, David was a musician before he was a warrior or king. He used to play the lyre for King Saul, when the king was afflicted by fits. (He apparently suffered from some kind of mental illness.


She asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

Salome was acting on her mother's instructions in making his request. John the Baptist had been telling Herod that it was not lawful for him to have taken his brother's wife as his own. Herod had arrested John for this, but had been afraid to have him killed. Salome's request, made in front of guests, forced Herod's hand.


He survived being thrown into a lions' den.

This happened after Babylon had conquered Israel. Daniel was a trusted adviser of the king, Darius -- but this didn't stop Darius from having him cast into a lions' den to satisfy political foes.


Who cut off a soldier's ear in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Technically, the disciple is not named, but popular belief holds that it was Peter. He acts rashly throughout the Gospels; a temperamental man whom God will make a leader and saint.


He/she held back money owed to the early church, from a sale of land.

Ananias and Sapphira's story is found in Acts chapter 5. We won't spoil it for you, but it doesn't have a happy ending.


He walked right out of jail, with the help of an angel.

This story is found in Acts chapter 12. "Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and said, 'Get up quickly.' And the chains fell from his wrists." (Acts 12: 7)


He ordered the youngest children of Bethlehem killed, hoping to destroy the Messiah who had just been born.

Herod was afraid of the newborn Messiah, whose birth he had been made aware of by the three wise kings passing through his territory. The death edict was his extreme reaction.


Shown all the kingdoms of the world, and promised them, he still refused to worship the devil.

This one was Jesus himself. His temptation came between his baptism and the beginning of his ministry.


He tricked his father into giving him his brother's blessing.

Jacob is one of the Bible's tricksters. He disguised himself as his brother Esau and obtained his father's blessing, which at that time was much more than a well-wish, but a kind of spiritual successorhood.


He interpreted Pharaoh's dreams and prevented a famine.

Joseph was in Egypt because his brothers sold him into slavery. However, he was a wise man, and rose to a position of prominence, interpreting the Pharaoh's dreams of crop failure.


He caused the sun to stand still (well, with God's intervention).

This occurs in Joshua chapter 10. "Thus sun stopped in midheaven, and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since." (Joshua 10:13)


This friend of David fell in battle alongside his father, Saul.

Jonathan was close to David from the first time they met. David grieved to hear of his fall in battle against the Philistines.


In the story of the poor man's lamb, he spoke the truth to a king.

Nathan was unafraid to tell powerful King David that he had done wrong in the eyes of the Lord. (Or if he was, he hid it well). The story of the poor man's lamb was about David's seduction of the married Bathsheba.


He tried to overthrow his father, King David, but died with his head stuck in a tree.

Absalom the usurper died an undignified death. When his mule went under an oak, Absalom's head was caught in low-hanging branches, and Joab, who served David, ran him through with several spears.


She hid Israelite spies in her home in Jericho.

Rahab was a prostitute, the book of Joshua tells us. But she was saved, along with her family, when the city of Jericho was sacked, because she helped the two spies who were scouting out the city.


He built the most elaborate temple that Israel had yet had.

The book of 1 Kings tells us that it took Solomon seven years to build the temple. 1 Samuel chapter 6 goes into great detail about the materials that went into it: cedar wood, olive wood, gold and more.


She brought gold, precious stones and spices to King Solomon when she visited.

The queen of Sheba came not just to bring gifts, but to test Solomon's wisdom. When he was able to answer all her questions, "The spirit went out of her." (Do you get the feeling she was used to being the smartest person in the room?)


He predicted a child's birth to a barren woman -- and later raised him from the dead.

We can understand if you chose "Jesus" here. Several of Elisha's miracles prefigure those of Jesus, like causing food to multiply to feed the hungry, and raising a person from the dead.


He wanted to destroy the Jews, all because one of them, Mordecai, offended him.

Haman is found in the book of Esther. She must intercede with the king to derail Haman's plans. This story is comemmorated in the Jewish festival of Purim.


They survived being thrown into a fiery furnace.

All three men were punished for not worshiping an idol in Babylon, which had conquered the Jews. This story is found in the book of Daniel, and closely parallels the story of the lions' den, which likewise has a happy ending.


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