Today's headlines of conflict in the Middle East are nothing new. The Bible records many clashes between Israel and surrounding countries, dating from the time God first formed that nation. Test your knowledge of these biblical enemies of Israel (listed below). The questions get increasingly more difficult as you go along.
Possible answers: Amalekites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Edomites, Egyptians, Midianites, Moabites, Persians, Philistines, Romans, Hittites, Arameans.
1. In Jesus' day these enemies had conquered the entire nation of Israel and imposed high taxes. Their soldiers carried out Christ's crucifixion.
2. This nation initially welcomed the Israelites but later enslaved them. God sent Moses to their leader demanding that he "let my people go."
3. This nation overcame Israel's champion, Samson, by cutting his hair. Later, their champion Goliath was defeated by young David.
4. These people were already living in the land that God promised to Abraham and his descendants. Joshua led Israel's army into battle to expel them from the Promised Land.
5. God ordered King Saul to completely destroy these people. Because he disobeyed, one of their descendants nearly destroyed the Israelites. Only Queen Esther's intervention saved the Jews.
6. These traditional enemies of Israel descended from Abraham's nephew, Lot. An Old Testament heroine also came from this nation.
7. This nomadic people purchased Joseph as a slave for 20 shekels of silver. Later, a huge army of this nation was defeated by Gideon and only 300 men.
Answers to Test Your Bible Power
1. Romans. The Roman Empire had conquered the known world by Christ's time. Thus, Jesus was executed by Roman crucifixion rather than the Jewish method of stoning, fulfilling Old Testament prophecy (Isa. 53:5).
2. Egyptians. Egypt was sometimes Israel's friendappointing Joseph second-in-charge to Pharaoh (Gen. 41:40), allying with King Solomon (1 Kings 3:1); and sometimes Israel's enemy (1 Kings 14:24, 2 Kings 23:29).
3. Philistines. Israel battled this nation often. Its leaders paid Delilah to learn Samson's secret, but he died wreaking vengeance (Judg. 16). Philistines captured Israel's Ark of the Covenant, but returned it after plagues struck (1 Sam. 6). Goliath taunted Israel until David defeated him. The modern term Palestinian is believed to derive from Philistine.
4. Canaanites. The Canaanites' religious practices, which included child sacrifice, were so wicked that God ordered Israel to destroy them (Num. 33:51-53). When Jezebel married Israel's King Ahab, she reintroduced Canaanite religion (1 Kings 16:31). Two Canaanite women, Tamar and Rahab, appear in Jesus' family tree (Matt. 1:3, 5).
5. Amalekites. This tribe attacked Israel soon after the exodus; Aaron and Hur held up Moses' hands during battle until Israel prevailed (Ex. 17:14). God vowed to destroy the Amalekites, and Saul lost his kingship for failing to do so (1 Sam. 15:26). Haman, an Amalekite, plotted to destroy Israel, but his plans were foiled by Queen Esther.
6. Moabites. Abraham's nephew Lot fled to a cave after God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. While there, Moab was born from Lot's incest with his daughter (Gen. 19:36, 37). Later, Moab's King Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel (Num. 22). Ruth, King David's ancestor, left Moab (modern Jordan) to worship Israel's God (Ruth 1:16).
7. Midianites. The Midianites descended from Abraham and his wife Keturah (Gen. 25:1, 2). Moses fled to Midian (modern Saudi Arabia) after killing an Egyptian (Ex. 2:15). In the time of the Judges, "Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord." Gideon delivered them (Judg. 6, 7).