JERUSALEM, Israel - A student from a girl's school near Tel Aviv beat 15 finalists to win the 2010 International Bible contest, traditionally held on Israel's Independence Day.
Or Ashual, 17, whose name means "light," is a student at Amana girls' school in Kfar Saba. Her father, Shimon, won the contest 27 years ago.
The theme for this year's contest, the 47th international Bible quiz for Jewish youth, was the revival of the Hebrew language.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky spoke about his struggles with biblical Hebrew when he was imprisoned in the Soviet Union. Sharansky said applying himself to learn the language strengthened and encouraged him to persevere while incarcerated.
Second place went to Elad Nachshon from the De Shalit High School in Rehovot and Avner Netanyahu, 15, the youngest son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, came in third.
"I was very excited, together with my wife, for our son," Netanyahu said afterward. "And I was deeply impressed with Or and Elad's achievements, as well as those of the other contestants who are all Bible champions - each and every one," he said.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar joined Netanyahu in announcing the decision to reinstate the adult Bible contest, abandoned 30 years ago. Sa'ar said the contest would be held next Hanukkah.
"The Bible is the basis for the existence of the people of Israel and the State of Israel," Netanyahu told contestants. "Be blessed and bring a light to the nations," he said.
Brig.-Gen. Eli Shermeister, who serves as chief education officer of the Israel Defense Forces, spoke of the Bible's importance to Israeli soldiers. He warmly welcomed the international contestants to the land of the Bible.
"View Israel as your home," he said. "Read and learn about it," Shermeister said.
Ynet news and The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.