How Well Do You Know the Geography of The Bible?

J. Reinoehl

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Everyone knows that the Bible happened in the Middle East, plus a corner of Northeast Africa - more or less, anyway. Still, most of the places in that area have gone through many names. They've been conquered by empire after empire. They've had collective names like the Fertile Crescent, the Holy Land, the Land of the Four Rivers, and more. 

They've been named in English, Arabic, Hebrew, and Greek, plus dead or mostly dead languages such as Assyrian, Akkadian, and Latin. They've gone from being one of the most fertile areas in the world to being reduced to desert by a combination of climate change and over-habitation. They are sadly mostly still homes to great conflict. Even keeping track of them nowadays is tough going - so it takes a true Bible scholar to remember exactly what was going on there at the time.

Complicating things still further is the problem of the Bible not always being entirely clear about where things actually went down. The Red Sea may not have actually been the Red Sea, but instead the "Reed Sea." Plus, the landscape has changed: at least two of those Four Rivers aren't where they ought to be. 

Fortunately, archaeology can help us confirm some things, such as that the Biblical Goshen - the area where the Hebrew slaves lived in Egypt - does, in fact, contain the remnants of a settlement with the bones of Semitic people, from around the time of the Exodus. That means we can piece it all together with the original text to establish a good idea of what was going on, and importantly, where. Let's see if you know your Biblical geography!

Where did Elisha send Naaman to, seven times, so he would be healed of leprosy?

“Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed. But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.” –2 Kings 5: 10—11

At which place did men try to build a tower to reach the heavens?

The tower of Babel was made from mud-brick and tar. Although many other ancient civilizations used stone and mortar, buildings in the area of Mesopotamia, where the tower was probably built, used mud-brick and tar because it was more plentiful.

Where was Paul sent as a prisoner when he appealed to Caesar?

“The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” –Acts 23:11

In which city did Solomon build the temple?

The tabernacle was a temporary place of worship that could easily be moved as the Israelites traveled away from Egypt. King David was the first to propose a permanent dwelling place. Although God never requested a permanent temple, he allowed David’s son, King Solomon, to build it.

What was called the “land flowing with milk and honey” several times in the Bible?

“So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.” –Exodus 3: 8

The first miracle (turning water into wine) was performed where?

Jesus turning the water into wine is only mentioned in the Gospel of John. Kefr Kenna and Khirbet Qana have both been proposed as the locations for the site.

Which city did Joshua and the Israelites march around for seven days before its walls collapsed?

“Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men… On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse, and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” –Joshua 6: 2—5

When Jesus told a parable about a man attacked by robbers, where was the person who took care of the man after finding him on the roadside from?

Jesus was just refused passage through Samaria when he told this parable. Although the route from Galilee to Jerusalem went directly through Samaria, many Samaritans refused to house Jewish people over the three-day journey.

Where did Saul (later known as Paul) have a life-changing event that left him temporarily blind and caused him to become a Christian?

“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” –Acts 9: 3—4

Where did Jacob see angels descending a ladder from Heaven?

In ancient times, using a stone (or another hard object) as a pillow was normal. Jacob was able to then use his pillow as an altar for God.

Where was Jonah fleeing to when he was swallowed by a large fish?

“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.’” –Jonah 1: 3

What is the name of the modern archaeological site that most scholars identify as the Biblical Sela or Seir in Edom?

Although many of the rock carvings that Petra is famous for are dated to the 3rd century B. C., the area is thought to have been inhabited since the 21st century B. C. There are more than 500 tombs and temples on the site.

After the nation of Israel split into two countries, what was the Southern Kingdom known as?

“When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David. When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.” –1Kings 12: 20-21

What country supplied most of the lumber for Solomon’s temple?

Cedrus libani is a species of cedar native to Lebanon. The tree is seen on the Lebanese flag and is the nation's emblem.

Where was Jesus born?

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” –Micah 5: 1—2

Where did Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, live?

Bethany was about 2 miles away from Jerusalem. It is currently called el-Azariyeh.

Solomon got most of his building supplies from Hiram, king of which city?

“Solomon sent this message to Hiram king of Tyre: ‘Send me cedar logs as you did for my father David when you sent him cedar to build a palace to live in…’” –2 Chronicles 2: 3

Where did Abraham (Abram) live before moving to Haran and eventually Canaan?

Sir Charles Leonard Wooley is credited with excavating Ur after being sent there by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania. Many of Wooley’s interpretations have been challenged in recent years, but the artifacts he found in the tombs were massive and provided important insight into Mesopotamian life.

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, which body of water did they cross on dry land?

“And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.” –Exodus 14: 27

In which town did Jesus ask a woman he met at a well for some water?

The well where Jesus spoke with the woman is believed by many to be Jacob’s well—one made by him after he parted ways from Esau. The well exists today near the base of Mount Gerizim.

Where did Moses receive the Ten Commandments from God?

“Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.” –Exodus 19: 18—19

Which body of water did Jesus walk across?

The Sea of Galilee was also known as the Sea of Tiberias in Roman times. During this part of Jesus’ ministry, he kept trying to find time alone, but the crowds followed him from one side of the sea to the other.

Philip met a eunuch from which country and baptized him?

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet.” Acts 8: 26—28

Where did God place Adam and Eve after creating them?

Due to the geographical changes that occurred during the flood, Eden as Adam and Eve knew it, would have been washed off the face of the earth. Prior to the flood, an angel would have guarded it against anyone reentering the weedless paradise where animals could speak.

Where was Jesus praying on the night he was captured?

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’” –Luke 22: 39—40

On the way to which city did Lot’s wife turn into a pillar of salt?

Lot had been told to flee the area, but he begged to stay in the small town of Zoar. After his wife died, he took his daughters and continued fleeing into the mountains.

On which island was Paul shipwrecked?

Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.” –Acts 28: 1—2

Nebuchadnezzar was the king of which nation?

Nebuchadnezzar ruled over the city of Babylon when it was at its height. He is credited with creating the Hanging Gardens, among other building projects.

Where did Mary and Joseph flee when Jesus was still young, in order to avoid Herod’s massacre?

“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” –Matthew 2:13

Jacob’s brother, Esau, is credited with founding which nation?

Edom is a mountainous region south of the Dead Sea and north of the Gulf of Aqaba. Obadiah recorded that the Edomites lived in the clefts of the rocks. Elsewhere, it is noted that they controlled the major caravan highway running to Egypt.

Which two cities were actually destroyed by fire and brimstone during Abraham’s time?

“Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” –Genesis 19: 24—26

Which town did Jesus consider to be his hometown?

Nazareth was a small agricultural town about 3 miles south of Sepphoris, which was the Roman capital of Galilee. The town never grew larger than 500 in population.

The book of Nahum is a prophecy against which city?

“A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite..” –Nahum 1: 1

Which place name is translated “the place of the skull?”

Biblically, Golgotha was located outside of Jerusalem along a public highway. It might have been a hill that actually resembled a skull, but it could also have obtained the name because of the many executions that occurred there.

John was imprisoned on which island when he wrote Revelation?

“I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” –Revelation 1: 9

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