- Deborah, a Prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She would sit under the palm tree of Deborah…in the hill country of Efraim, and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. -Judges 4:4-5
The story is about Deborah who was a very powerful woman in Israel-people stood in awe of her. As the above quote from the Bible tells us the people of her land looked to her for guidance and advice so she became a judge in the land. She also felt herself a ‘mother figure’-from the time she was young she had taken on the role of telling others how to handle issues and they would abide by her. Deborah was also a prophetess-God spoke to her and she carried out his wishes among his people. Deborah is a fascinating character not only because of the power she had but also the way she was willing to overlook being treated in not a respectful way by men who knew no better-she was a better person than that. When she was dealing with men who did not think a woman’s place was that of a leader she would, to some extent, not flaunt her power. I respected that about her-she wasn’t arrogant in her power, she just knew it was there and I imagine so did these men and that’s what scared them. Deborah is the one who instigates the war between the Israelites and Caanaanites. She had a prophecy from God that they would win so she goes with Barak to war and they do indeed prevail.
However, I don’t think that Deborah is the only powerful woman in this novel. There is Nogah, who is the King of the Caanaanite’s illegitimate daughter who was powerful in her own more quiet way. She is another character I felt very drawn to. She started out as a slave, her mother Reumah watching over her very closely as she knew who Nogah was. Eventually the King finds out who Nogah is and welcomes her into his heart although will not recognize her publicly. She learns to read and she and her mother have a much better life for a while. Then there is a war and Nogah’s life is upset once again. She goes to live in Barak’s home being a maid once again. However, she falls in love with him and he with her although he is oblivious at the time and only after she leaves him, does he realize his love. Finally they come together again and in Nogah’s quiet way she tells Barak that peace between the Israelites and Caanaanites is the best for both. Deborah agrees and they meet together with the Caanaanites and an agreement of peace is established.
There is so much more than I can ever possibly put in a review. This book is very rich in detail of both the people and the land-I felt as though I was a part of everything happening. It also has a romantic element which is enjoyable. I loved that we saw the power, especially of Deborah, in a time when this was really unheard of. Women had no rights in that time and yet here was Deborah rising above that to be a judge and highly respected.
Eva Etzioni-Halevy has a way of making us love these characters. I felt so strongly for them and their welfare. I was sad to see this novel end-it is a story I could have kept reading for another 400 pages. It is a testament to women that we can overcome almost anything to succeed. We are strong and brilliant and beautiful!
There are many quotes throughout this novel that are amazing but with my love of flowers I picked this out as one of my favorites just for the visual aspect and feeling of peace that it brings to me.
- ‘A gentle breeze was moving the branches of the blooming pomegranate trees and mandrakes, whose fragrances it bore into the distance. A mulitude of colorful wildflowers had sprouted; they glistened like precious stones from the dew of the night that still clung to their petals’.
I think this book is well worth reading especially if you love Biblical fiction. It’s a great story with an even greater lesson. Many thanks to Eva for the pleasure of reading this novel. You can visit her website here. For myself, I will definitely be reading her other two novels, The Song of Hannah and The Garden of Ruth.