Can You Name the Iconic Biblical Figure From a Hint?

Torrance Grey

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

When it comes to memorable characters, the Bible ranks right up alongside Greek and Norse mythology, or the national epic sagas of Iceland or Wales. The Bible is full of kings, warriors, priests, and sinners, as well as ordinary people who rose to meet extraordinary circumstances. 

For example, the Bible tells the story of a heathen woman, a Moabite, who married an Israelite. After her husband's death, she remained so faithful to her Jewish mother-in-law that she is seen as a symbol of fidelity to God. God rewarded her with a husband who was part of the lineage of David, as well as a book of the Bible named for her. 

Then there's the disciple who betrayed Jesus. His actions made the words "thirty pieces of silver" synonymous with treachery. Meanwhile, the Roman judge who gave up and turned Jesus over for crucifixion gave us the expression "I wash my hands of it." 

What do you remember about the heroes and villains of the Bible? We've crafted a quiz on the important figures of both the Old and New Testaments. We'll give you one short sentence about him or her, and then four answer options to choose from. Try it now, and make your Sunday School teacher proud!

I famously asked if I were my brother's keeper.

When asked where Abel is, Cain gives the Lord what seems to be a sarcastic answer -- "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" This seems quite daring to Bible readers, but it goes along with a theme in early Genesis that God does not appear to humans in a blaze of glory -- he seems to take a human-like form, and humans talk to Him with less deference than they will later.

I sent out a dove to look for signs of dry land.

Noah was a righteous man who "walked with God," Genesis tells us. For this reason, he and his family were saved from the Great Flood.

I am called the father of three faiths.

Abraham, who started out as "Abram," was chosen by God to be the father of the Jews. Since Christianity grew out of Judaism, and Islam from both, all three are called "Abrahamic" faiths.

The key to my strength was my long hair.

Samson was one of Israel's judges in its pre-monarchy days, a kind of civil authority. As a Nazirite, he had vowed never to cut his hair, and in turn, the Lord gave him superhuman strength.

I almost died rather than preach to the sinful people of Nineveh.

Jonah doesn't think the pagan people of Nineveh deserve saving, and tries to run away from God's command to preach to them. This leads to the story every Sunday school student learns, about Jonah being swallowed by a great fish before praying for salvation and being vomited back up onto dry land.

Sadly, I was never allowed to enter the Promised Land.

Moses was told by God that he would live to see the Promised Land, but not enter it. According to Scripture, Moses died on Mt. Pisgah, within sight of the land of Canaan.

I wrestled an angel to a draw.

Jacob was so strong that he wrestled an angel at Peniel, and the angel could not defeat him. Jacob refused to let go before the angel gave him his blessing, so it did, and renamed him "Israel."

He prepared the way of the Lord, as Isaiah prophesied.

John baptized Jesus at the Jordan River. Afterward, the book of Matthew tells us, the Spirit of God descended "In the form of a dove, and a voice from Heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

I had my conversion on the road to Damascus.

Paul, once known as Saul, was a zealous persecutor of the early Christians. This all changed when he saw a bright light on the road to Damascus and heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

An early Christian, I restored Saul's sight after his vision.

Ananias was in Damascus, and heard the voice of the Lord telling him to go and lay his hands on Saul (Paul). When Ananias did, Acts reports, "...something like scales fell from (Paul's) eyes." (This is where the popular phrase comes from).

I was the third child of Adam and Eve.

This raises a question that has driven Bible readers crazy for a long time: Who was there for Cain to go with live in the Land of Nod if his parents were the first two people on Earth? Only after the murder of Abel and the banishing of Cain do we find the verse "Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, for she said, "God has appointed me another child instead of Abel." This verse strongly implies that she did not have other children to give her comfort after Abel's death.

I sold my birthright for stew.

Esau was the slightly older of twins. His younger brother Jacob demanded Esau's birthright -- his position as Isaac's heir -- before giving him "bread and lentil stew." The fact that the stew is vegetarian reflects Jacob's status in the family: Esau is the hunter, Jacob the farmer.

Originally a shepherd, I rose to become a famed king.

David is a multifaceted figure: He is a shepherd, but also skilled in playing the lyre, which he does for the troubled and insomniac Saul. He also proves his athletic prowess when he kills the Philistine Goliath in a one-on-one contest.

I ascended to heaven without dying.

Elijah is taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire, drawn by horses of fire. In the Bible, Elijah alone is taken directly to heaven. Some make the claim that Enoch, in Genesis, was as well, but the wording is less clear.

I recited the poem/song called the "Magnificat."

Mary's song of praise is called "the Magnificat" because it begins "My soul magnifies the Lord." It strongly resembles the one made by expectant mother Hannah in first Samuel, suggesting that Mary was reciting something she'd learned, or that the gospel writer used it because it was representative of Mary's state of mind.

Jesus mourned my death, then raised me from the dead.

The story of Lazarus contains the shortest verse in the Bible: "Jesus wept." This verse shows Jesus as a real person, with human emotions.

As a priest, I counseled King Saul.

Samuel, dedicated to the service of God by his mother Hannah, was a wise religious leader during the time the Israel was shifting from rule by judges to a monarchy. Samuel anointed the first king, Saul, after he was chosen by the casting of lots.

Jesus chose me, a tax collector, to be one of his disciples.

The religious authorities of the day did not understand why Jesus would associate with a tax collector, who were seen as doing the bidding of Judea's Roman conquerors. But Jesus used a now-famous figure of speech to explain: "It is not the well who need a physician, but the sick."

This onetime fisherman is the "rock" upon which Christ built his church.

Simon was a somewhat brash fisherman early in the gospels. Later, Peter dominates the history of the early church, as told in the book of Acts. It's only halfway through Acts that the focus shifts to Paul.

After condeming Jesus, I washed my hands.

Here's another saying that comes from the BIble: to "wash one's hands" of an unsatisfactory situation. Pilate actually did this in front of the crowds who had demanded Jesus's death -- a pointed illustration of his innocence in the matter.

I took my pregnant bride-to-be to Bethlehem for a census.

Joseph was still engaged, not married, to Mary when they went to Bethlehem. It was there that she gave birth to Jesus, in the stable of Bethlehem inn.

The priests of the Hebrews trace their lineage back to me.

Aaron was the brother of Moses, and the high priest of the Hebrews when they left Egypt to return to Israel. God was said to have given Aaron's male descendants the priesthood in perpetuity.

I betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

The book of Luke says that Satan "entered into Judas called Iscariot," and other accounts say that he hanged himself immediately after betraying Jesus. Seen in that light, Judas was not a villain but a tool -- some theologians go so far as to say he was fulfilling God's plan.

My brothers were Ham and Japtheth.

Noah had three sons, Genesis tells us, Shem, Ham and Japtheth. Ham was the one who sinned by looking at his father when Noah was drunk and naked in his tent, while the Shem and Japtheth walked into the tent backward and covered Noah with a blanket without looking at him. Which was not only respectful, but quite dexterous, too!

I killed John the Baptist to please my stepdaughter.

This is not the same Herod (Herod I) who ordered infant males to be killed, in an attempt to kill the Messiah. It was his son, Herod Antipas, who ordered John the Baptist's execution, and also had a role in Jesus's. On a list of people we wouldn't want to be if there is a literal Day of Judgment, well, Herod ranks pretty high!

My future husband saw me getting water at a well.

Rebecca (sometimes spelled "Rebekah") offered Isaac water from her jar when he asked. This was a sign from God that she was to be his future wife.

I gave Jesus my tomb for his resting place.

Joseph of Arimathea appears toward the end of the gospels, when he donates his future tomb for Jesus's use. Did he believe that Jesus would only need it for three days? That would be an extraordinary amount of faith!

Jacob was tricked into marrying me before my sister.

Jacob loved Rachel, but Leah had to be married before her younger sister, according to tradition. Laban, the girls' father, covered Leah's face with a veil and let Jacob believe he was marrying Rachel. Dirty pool, Laban!

My wife tried to seduce Joseph during his servitude in Egypt.

The woman, in Genesis 39, is only identified as Potiphar's wife. Joseph felt so strongly about not committing adultery with his master's wife that when she grabbed his cloak, he slipped out of it and fled.

I was a close friend of David before he was king.

Whether David and Jonathan's friendship would have lasted if Jonathan were not killed young, in battle, is a question that intrigues Bible scholars. Jonathan would have been a rival for the throne, after Saul died or stepped down. With both of them gone, though, the way was clear for David.

Seeing me bathing caused a king to sin.

Scholars believe that Bathsheba was performing a mikvah, a ritual cleansing bath after a woman's period, when David saw her. He seduced her, and later had to send her husband to his death in battle to cover up his sin.

I visited King Solomon to test his wisdom.

The queen of Sheba is implied to be a very clever woman, because she comes to Solomon with a number of hard questions, and is amazed when he can answer all of them. She also brought him gold, gems and spices -- quite a host gift!

A king's son, I was killed while hanging from the branches of an oak tree.

Absalom dies one of the more undignified deaths in the Bible. When his mule goes under a tree, Absalom's head is caught in the branches, and a loyalist to King David -- whom Absalom was trying to overthrow -- killed him with a sword. David, Absalom's father, grieved for him despite his treachery.

I am a model of what a daughter-in-law should be.

Ruth insisted on staying with her mother-in-law, Orpah, when Orpah went back to Judea after the deaths of her husband and sons. Ruth's affirmation of loyalty, "Whither thou goest, I will go ..." is well-known and sometimes used in wedding vows.

At the Lord's command, he took a prostitute as a wife.

Hosea marries Gomer, who bears him three children (who possibly are fathered by other men). The forgiving relationship between Hosea and his wife is a symbol of God's forgiveness of Israel, which strays after other gods.

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