The International Bible Quiz for Youth had a special result in its jubilee year on Tuesday when two contestants were declared joint winners for the first time in the tournament’s history.

It was also the first time in 20 years that an international competitor was crowned champion.

Yishai Eisenberg, 15, from New Jersey and Elior Babian, 16, from Beit Shemesh were declared inseparable in the depth of their knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and crowned joint winners and recipients of the coveted prize, which includes scholarships for educational programs in Israel.

Competitors were narrowed down in earlier rounds from 58 to 16; they came from 26 countries and their ages ranged from 12 up through 18.

The International Bible Quiz for Youth for the Hebrew year 5773 was organized by the IDF chief education officer, the IDF Rabbinate, the Defense and Education ministries, the Jewish Agency and the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund.

Speaking at the event, Education Minister Shai Piron said that the institution of the Bible quiz, which is held annually at the President’s Residence on Independence Day, illustrated the desire to connect Jewish independence to Jewish values.

“Through the competition, young students become immersed in the words of the prophets and are thus exposed to the essence of the masterpiece that we are trying to build here in the State of Israel,” Piron said.

At the end of the final round, in which both Eisenberg and Babian answered 12 questions correctly, presiding judge of the event Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein deliberated with the fellow judges and unanimously declared two winners of the competition.

Eisenberg was somewhat overwhelmed by his victory while Babian said to win the competition was extremely exciting and satisfying.

“Torah study satisfies the soul,” he said. “For sure I would have liked to be the outright winner, but this is what God wanted.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was on hand to present the prize.

“Your love and expertise in the Bible is amazing,” Netanyahu said. “It really lifts the heart to see youth from Israel and abroad who delve so completely into our Book of Books.”

The prime minister also spoke about US President Barack Obama’s recent visit and how he had been shown the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known texts of some of the books of the Bible.

“I showed him the Book of Isaiah and I said to him, ‘This is our book and of the entire world,’” Netanyahu said.

“I showed him the verse, ‘And you shall beat your swords into plowshares....’ This [is] a universal message but was written here in this land by our fathers who always prayed to return to this land and build from anew our national life.

“Our faith and our hope is the Bible and we will not forget this for a moment,” the prime minister concluded.

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