Think you know Torah? Try to beat this impossible Hebrew Bible quiz.
Can you tell your Abrahams from your Absaloms from your Amnons?
Can you read the word of God and know who’s being addressed?
Then you might have a chance at acing the hilariously difficult excerpt we have from this year’s Chidon — the Hebrew Bible knowledge contest organized by the World Zionist Organization and the American Zionist Movement to challenge even the mightiest Torah scholar.
“It’s not an easy test,” says Shanni Alon, who coordinates the Chidon HaTanakh, which runs every two years and draws entrants from across the globe, and she’s right. The test’s 50 multiple-choice questions pull trivia from the deepest trenches of the Tanakh, and no, it’s not open-book. Most of the questions require contestants to answer a question about a verse, or a phrase within a verse. There are 23,145 verses total in the Five Books, Prophets and Writings — the liturgy included in the Tanakh — so good luck.
The grand prize in the American competition? A free trip to Israel… to compete in another Chidon, against winners from Argentina, France, Israel and other countries. The first round of the contest is administered through an online portal, and contestants are filmed while they take it to keep everything on the level. Out of 80 Americans who took the test this year, the top eight finishers advanced to the Nov. 7 final in New York. The highest score was 46 out of 50.
I was one of those 80, taking the Chidon exam on a Friday afternoon while sitting in bed at the end of a long work day. I didn’t study for the test. I’d like to think my 12 years of Judaic studies education had prepared me, even with all the times I played cellphone games in class and talked through the weekly Torah reading.
And perhaps it did. I got 23 right — less than half, but no great indignity either. (Alon told me it wasn’t the lowest score.)
Alon was generous enough to share a sample of this year’s exam — 10 of the questions I and the other contestants got. Try your luck and share your score on social media! There’s no shame in failing this one. There’s always more to learn. (One note: the Hebrew translations come from the JPS edition of Tanakh.)
Answers are at the bottom, along with a link to let us know your score.
1. How long did Jacob dwell in the land of Egypt?
A. 17 years
B. 20 years
C. 23 years
D. 30 years
2. A biblical character is described in the following quote: “His father had never scolded him: ‘Why did you do that?’” Who is it?
3. The following quote is addressed to a biblical character: “And listen to what they say; after that you will have the courage to attack the camp.” Who is it?
4. When is it not mandatory to blow trumpets?
A. At festive times
B. At the beginning of the month
C. In wartime
D. When inaugurating a building
5. A biblical character is described as going to “the top of the hill that is near Hebron.” Who is it?
B. Caleb, the son of Jephunneh
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6. The following phrase is excerpted from a prophecy: “But let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and beast.” What is the prophecy about?
A. A person’s death
B. An epidemic
C. The destruction of a city
D. A defeat in battle
7. A biblical character is described in the following quote: “And, taking of every clean animal and of every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar.” Who is it?
8. A biblical character said the following: “As you say, my lord king: I and all I have are yours.” Who said it?
D. Shimei, son of Gera
9. Which of the following was not born in Egypt?
C. Jeroboam son of Nevat
10. A biblical character utters the following prayer: “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before You…” Who is it?
A. A Psalmist
1. A (source: Genesis, 47:28)
2. C (source: I Kings 1:6)
3. D (source: Judges 7:11)
4. D (source: Numbers 10:9-10)
5. A (source: Judges 16:3)
6. C (source: Jonah 3:8)
7. B (source: Genesis 8:20)
8. B (source: I Kings 20:4)
9. C (source: I Kings 11:26)
10. D (source: II Kings 20:3)
How many did you get right? Click here to tweet your score and challenge your friends!