Do You Know These Old Testament Stories by Heart?


By: Olivia Cantor

7 Min Quiz

Image: ZU_09/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

The Bible holds hundreds of stories that are equally compelling, intriguing, controversial, and of course insightful. Are you familiar with most of them?

There are several stories that stand out from the collection, of course, and those tend to be repackaged over the decades into smaller doses for teaching Biblical lessons. These stories are the ones we know best, but are there lesser known stories that you also hold close to your heart? 

Of course, it's not only within the confines of the church that these stories are known. Popular culture has utilized many of these stories and incorporated them in various media. From film to TV series to literature and even children's books and cartoons, these stories have been told and retold many times, as the events and major plot points of these stories have also become templates of storytelling utilized in secular ways. Can you pinpoint them?

Try your luck with this quiz, and let's see how much of an expert you are in the Old Testament. Good luck!

Abraham’s story was a true tug-of-war of emotions, since God wanted him to sacrifice a human. Which human did God choose?

Isaac, Abraham’s son, was identified by God as the ultimate symbol of loyalty that the Father of Many Nations can do, if Abraham were to sacrifice his own son to Him. He was torn, of course, but he eventually got to preparing the sacrifice, which proved to God that Abraham is indeed a loyal and worthy man, so He stopped the sacrifice and let Isaac live.


What was God planning to do when he asked Noah to build an ark?

God planned to make it rain for 40 days and 40 nights, to wipe away the sins that humankind were racking up already since the time of Adam’s banishment. So Noah built the solid ark for years, amidst the people making fun of him, until the great flood finally came, so of course he had the last laugh there, in a way.


As a sold slave in Egypt, Jacob’s favorite son Joseph was saved from death and incarceration by his one specific talent. What was this talent?

Joseph’s own narrative starts out as a slave serving an important Egyptian leader named Potiphar, but the man caught his wife trying to seduce the poor slave, so he sent Joseph to jail. While in jail, Joseph showed his talent of interpreting dreams to two prisoners, one of which ended up serving the Pharaoh. And when the Pharaoh had troubling dreams, the dude recommended Joseph’s interpretation skills, which became our protagonist’s way of getting out of jail, and ascending to the ranks beside the Pharaoh.


When Isaac had his own sons, Esau and Jacob, the two faced some sibling rivalry by competing to get something from their father. What was it?

As Isaac was dying, it should be the elder son who should get the birthright and final blessings, so that should be Esau. But Jacob deceived his father and pretended to be Esau, so he got the coveted blessings instead. Of course, that didn’t go well with Esau.


After the great flood, the people wanted to build a big city and a big structure that could reach the heavens, which irked God, of course. What was this structure called?

After the great flood, it seems that the people were all sharing one culture and one language, so they united to create one city with a structure called Tower of Babel to reach the heavens. But God saw this as hubris, and stopped the construction by making the workers speak different languages instead of just one, so they ended up miscommunicating.


Jacob had a dozen sons, but played favorites with Joseph. As a result, what did his brothers do to daddy’s fave?

Jacob didn’t see how his favoritism would wreak havoc on his family, so Joseph’s older brothers connived to throw him somewhere and leave him there. But when they saw some merchants passing by on their way to Egypt, they decided to make a sale, and sold Joseph to become a slave in Egypt.


God had many stories of destroying places because humans were being decadent and sinful there. Which two famous cities suffered this tragic plot?

God got displeased a lot of times during the Old Testament, so He destroyed many things that were also sinful and bad. The famous destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah stands out among those stories, because it was a good cautionary tale of what happens when societies become godless, corrupt, and decadent.


The Old Testament also had an intriguing foundling story featuring a Hebrew baby raised as an Egyptian who later reclaimed his heritage and rightful role as his people’s liberator. Whose story is this?

When the Pharaoh ordered that all Hebrew newborn male children should be thrown into the river, Moses’ mother hid him by securing and setting him afloat into the river, where the Pharaoh’s own daughter found him, and raised him as her own. But as a grownup, Moses discovered his true heritage and his true role in life – to lead his people, the Israelites, away from Egyptian slavery.


God wanted to spare a good man called Lot before he let fire rain down on Sodom and Gomorrah. As he tried to escape, which of Lot’s family members still got affected negatively?

An angel was sent to Lot to give him instructions on how to escape, and specifically said that no one should look back as Sodom and Gomorrah are being destroyed. But Lot’s wife got curious and took a peek during their escape. As a result, she was turned into a pillar of salt, to the dismay and grief of Lot.


Adam and Eve enjoyed their time in God’s paradise, but it was ruined by an important antagonistic prop. What was it?

God supposedly created a tree that bore the forbidden fruit, which He prohibited Adam and Eve to eat, for it will lead then to sin. But Eve was tempted by a snake-like creature into taking a bite, and inciting Adam to do the same, which led to their banishment from paradise for disobeying God’s direct order.


Escaping his brother Esau’s wrath because he stole his father Isaac’s final blessing, Jacob took a nap and dreamt of this structure. What was it?

Jacob took a nap somewhere and had a significant dream that was symbolic as it is prophetic. The dream is about a flight of stairs where angels ascended and descended, the bottom of which was touching the earth while its top touched the heavens, which Biblical scholars agree that it was about how humans can reach heaven, and also how the forthcoming Jesus could become the personification of the symbolic stairs to bridge humankind and His Father.


During the Ten Plagues, how did the Hebrew firstborn children got protected from the tenth plague?

Moses was instructed by God to alert the Israelites to smear some blood of lamb on their houses, particularly right above the doors, so that death will not literally come knocking there as He unleashed the tenth plague that killed all of Egypt’s firstborns. So even the firstborn son of the Pharaoh was killed by the plague, which made him change his mind about the whole slave business, and agreed to release the Hebrew people.


Aside from having locusts and toads pester Egypt, what liquid was greatly affected during the Ten Plagues?

God showed the Egyptians the Ten Plagues one by one, and the first grand gesture was turning all kinds of water into blood, leaving them with nothing to drink or use in their daily life. Later, frogs, lice, locusts, and even a hailstorm came as well, pestering the Egyptians.


Out on their own, Adam and Eve started a new narrative outside paradise by starting a family. What were their first children’s names?

Adam and Eve had children named Cain and Abel. But the two brothers also had a subplot of their own, as Abel’s offerings seemed to be favored more by God than Cain’s, so Cain ended up killing Abel in a fit of jealousy and rage.


God communicated with Moses through the burning bush to give him these important rules. What were these rules?

The Ten Commandments outlined God’s simplest guidelines in being a good follower, and it enumerated what people ought to do and not do to be deemed worthy of His love. It was like a manual about living a good, decent and God-fearing life.


Moses was finally able to start leading the Israelites out of Egypt’s slave hold, but they hit a snag when this body of water got in their way. What was this?

People in the exodus reached the edge of the Red Sea when the Pharaoh changed his mind about letting the Israelites leave, so he ordered his soldiers to pursue them. Moses prayed so hard to God for some miracle to save them, and that was when the Red Sea parted, clearing a path for the people to cross safely, then He closed the path again, drowning the Pharaoh’s soldiers in pursuit.


What will Samson lose if his long hair will be cut off?

Samson was a strong man with super-human strength, so no enemy can defeat the army he’s in! So what the enemy did was to send a temptress spy, Delilah, to know the secret of his strength and discover how to defeat him. It turns out that his long hair is the source of his strength, so this is what Delilah aimed to cut off to eliminate his power.


Samson and Delilah’s story revolved around this very pivotal part of the human head. What was it?

The story of Samson and Delilah can be found in the Old Testament book of Judges, where Delilah attempted to seduce Samson so she could get close to him to acquire a valuable secret. Eventually, their narrative will revolve around the long locks of Samson, as his hair becomes a pivotal pot device that moves their somewhat tragic narrative forward.


God had a strange way of negotiating with tyrants who enslaved His people. What did Moses warn the Egyptian Pharaoh about, if he didn’t liberate the Hebrew slaves?

Moses’ story coincides with the time when Egyptians enslaved the Israelite nation, so all Hebrews were slaves. When he finally came into his role of the liberator, Moses warned that Ten Plagues will come to Egypt to show the Pharaoh that the Hebrew God is better than the Egyptian gods, and that he should free His people from slavery if he didn’t want anything untoward to happen to his own nation.


Office politics is also a story that’s present in the Old Testament, which can be read in the story of Daniel, as he got thrown in a den full of which animals?

Daniel is a trusted man who was promoted to a higher position, but his boss was tricked by jealous coworkers into creating a sort of ordinance that put Daniel in jail, to be thrown to the lions to die. But because of his strong faith, the lions didn’t harm Daniel in any way, and the people were at awe of him and the God that protected him after that incident.


What kind of animal spoke up to Balaam and complained of animal abuse?

The story of Balaam and the Donkey involves an angel of God appearing before them to stop their journey, because Balaam is somewhat disobeying God’s order with that trip. But the angel can only be seen by the donkey, so it avoids it during the trip, confusing Balaam, who ends up punishing the animal. The donkey then miraculously starts talking, like a scene out of a Disney movie, and complains of the ill treatment it’s getting from the master!


In the Battle of Jericho story, what musical instrument literally brought the walls down?

The attacking army marched around the high, impenetrable walls of Jericho for several days, then they surrounded the place and blew their trumpets out. The combination of the sounds and their prayers brought the walls down, leading to the defeat of the city.


The story of Jonah involves him being swallowed by what creature?

Jonah was a prophet who rode a ship that encountered a great storm at sea. When the people there discovered that the storm will stop when he is thrown overboard, they did just that. But Jonah ended up being swallowed by a whale that God sent, so he remained inside of it for three days until God told the whale to spit him out on dry land.


When David knocked Goliath out with his slingshot, what other weapon did he use to finish the enemy off?

It only took one smooth stone to hit Goliath on the forehead, using a slingshot, to knock him down and knock him out cold. When David saw that the enemy was down, he immediately got Goliath’s own sword and decapitated the enemy with it, finishing the job, and winning one for his “team.”


Perhaps the most famous underdog story in the Old Testament involves a young boy named David who battled a certain Philistine. Who was this enemy?

The story of David and Goliath narrates how an underdog who has enough faith in God can defeat even the biggest of enemies. And that is what happened, as narrated in Samuel, when a shepherd boy named David defeated a huge gigantic soldier named Goliath after the boy heard the enemy mocking his God.


Why was Jonah swallowed by a huge sea creature?

God instructed the prophet Jonah to preach about His word to the people of Nineveh, Israel’s rival land, but Jonah didn’t want to, because that land is the enemy of his land. So when he tried to weasel out of God’s instructions and rode a ship to avoid the task, God saw him and sent a storm, then a whale to swallow Jonah to teach him a lesson.


The story of the Battle of Jericho took place in which promised land?

Before he died, Moses put his assistant, Joshua, in command of taking Canaan back for the Israelites to live on. So Joshua was tasked to take back Canaan city by city first, starting with Jericho, where they successfully took over.


In the Creation Story, who were God’s two great human co-stars in that narrative?

Adam and Eve are supposedly the first human beings to be created by God during the week-long Creation Story, only He created Adam first, which He fashioned out of His likeness. When Adam got lonely, God supposedly got a bone from his ribs and fashioned it to become his companion, Eve.


King Solomon is famous for making wise kinds of these. What are these?

King Solomon’s story involves his great decision-making process, one that combines great wisdom and simple truths. The most famous story that demonstrated this process is the one where two women were claiming to be the mother of one baby child, and the king had to carefully weigh in on this problem to solve.


The Jewish men named Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego were ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar to be thrown into a furnace for refusing to do what?

When the Jewish young men named Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego were thrown into the furnace for refusing to bow down before a golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had built, the king saw that the three were protected by a fourth image that appeared in the furnace, and it appeared like the “Son of God” was protecting the three for their steadfast faith in Him. From then on, the Babylonian king put the three men in high positions in his kingdom and ordered everyone to respect the God of the three unscathed men.


King Nebuchadnezzar experienced some puzzling kind of this, which Daniel helped him out with. What was this puzzling thing?

The Old Testament holds many stories that involves dreams as a plot device to make the narrative more interesting, and to take the story to the next level. In the Book of Daniel, it was King Nebuchadnezzar who had a puzzling dream and wanted it interpreted, but he didn’t want to tell it to potential interpreters, because he believes that if they are truly seers, then they will be able to know what the dream is without him telling them!


When God was planning a narrative of starting over, whom did he contact to enact this plan with Him?

Noah was called upon by God to start building a huge ark for His upcoming grand plan. He wanted Noah to gather up different species of plants and a pair of animals that could mate later on to propagate their species again.


The story of these two closely-knit women actually contain words of devotion echoed in modern Catholic marriage vows. Who are these two?

Naomi was the mother-in-law of Ruth, and when Naomi’s son died, Ruth refused to leave Naomi despite being widowed. She said “Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God,” showing how devoted she became to her mother-in-law whom she treated with reverence and kindness, as the feeling was also mutually reciprocated.


This prophet was the one who prophesied the coming of Jesus Christ. Who is he?

Isaiah was one of the greatest prophets during the Old Testament’s time, but he was preaching the word of God during the time that the Israelites were mired in bad ways. Nonetheless, he was the one who told them about the forthcoming role of the Messiah, and what good that will bring to humankind.


The first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, began with stories of this one monumental event. What was it?

The book of Genesis greatly expounds on the Creation Story, where God made many things part by part, and day by day, from the heavens down to the earth and the living beings that inhabited it. He purportedly created everything in the span of almost a week, then took a rest on the seventh day.


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