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Who Done It?

Crime and criminals are as old as mankind. The Bible, which records the world's first murder in Genesis 4:8, often reads like a police blotter. Test your detective skills and your Bible knowledge by matching these suspects to their crimes

List of suspects

Saul, Samson, Aaron, Jezebel, Gomer, Onesimus, Simon, Herod, Rachel, Jacob's sons, Amnon, Zedekiah's men, Judas, Pilate, Lot

1. The Crime: Theft

Clues: The victim claimed that his household idols were stolen around the same time that his two daughters, his son-in-law, and his grandchildren left town. When searched, the criminal sat on the stolen evidence to conceal it.

2. The Crime: Unlawful Imprisonment

Clues: The perpetrators imprisoned the victim in a cistern where he nearly starved to death. Their motive was to deny him the right to proclaim God's word.

3. The Crime: Attempted Bribery

Clues: The suspect, a well-known sorcerer, resorted to bribery in an attempt to gain the power to lay hands on people and have them receive the Holy Spirit.

4. The Crime: Sorcery

Clues: The culprit was seen entering the home of a well-known witch after dark. He participated in a seance, conjuring up the dead in order to learn the outcome of an upcoming battle.

5. The Crime: Obstruction of Justice

Clues: When confronted with the evidence of wrongdoing (in this case, idolatry), this leader denied responsibility saying, "I threw [the gold] into the fire, and out came this calf!"

6. The Crime: Child Abandonment

Clues: The suspect abandoned her husband and children for her lovers. The victim, who questioned whether the children were even his own, later bought his adulterous wife back from slavery.

7. The Crime: Theft

Clues: Although the suspect, a slave, stole from his master before running away, a reliable evangelist testified that the culprit was a changed man. The preacher offered to pay back what the suspect had stolen.


1. Rachel (Gen. 31:17-35). The idols Rachel stole from her father Laban?the ones she thought would bring luck and health?nearly cost her her life. While Laban's false gods could be stolen, Jacob's God was always with him (Gen. 28:15).

2. Zedekiah's men (Jer. 38:1-13). When the prophet Jeremiah warned people to repent and to submit to their Babylonian enemies as agents of God's judgment, the king's officials imprisoned him as a traitor. Jesus mentioned future rewards for faithful people (Matt. 5:10).

3. Simon (Acts 8:9-25). Simon had used sorcery and magic to win followers, but they converted to Christianity through Philip's preaching and received the Holy Spirit. Simon tried to buy the apostles' power to serve his own ambition, unaware that salvation, the Spirit's power, and eternal life are gifts of God (Eph. 2:8-9), and not to be bought.

4. Saul (1 Sam. 28:7-19). Witchcraft was punishable by death (Deut. 18:10). King Saul had failed to heed Samuel's advice while he lived, yet tried to summon Samuel's spirit for help after he'd died. In Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus, he explained that if the dead could talk, they still aren't as convincing witnesses as Scripture (Luke 16:31).

5. Aaron (Exodus 32). Impatience often leads to sin. Tired of waiting for his brother Moses' return from Mount Sinai, Aaron yielded to the Israelites' demands. Then Aaron tried to shift the blame away from himself. Paul told believers "to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives ? while we wait for the blessed hope" (Titus 2:12-13).

6. Gomer (Hosea 1-3). The prophet Hosea and his adulterous wife Gomer served as object lessons for Israel who had committed spiritual adultery by abandoning God for idols. Like Hosea, who redeemed his wife from slavery, God would also ransom his people in love.

7. Onesimus (Philemon 1). According to Roman law, a slave who stole from his master and ran away could be executed. In his letter to Philemon (Onesimus's Christian owner), Paul pleads for mercy saying that Onesimus had become a believer, too.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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