I have always been a huge fan of Biblical fiction. I think it’s in part due to the fact that the Bible is a never ending wellspring of characters with little information provided about their backgrounds. The possibilities for great stories to emerge are limitless and Deborah’s story is certainly one of these.
The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy is a page-turner that I could not bring myself to put down. The novel focuses on the great prophetess and judge, Deborah. Deborah is divorced by her husband of sixteen years, Lapidoth, due in part to her choosing the great warrior Barak as the leader of the Israel army in its battle against the Canaanites. The decision causes much upheaval in her personal life, but Deborah never wavers in her resolve, knowing that Barak is the only one who can save God’s people.
Deborah is not the only central figure in the novel; she is merely the powerful force that lays the groundwork for the plot. Her power and influence is not lost on the three other main characters or the events that transpire. Barak captures the beautiful and mesmerizing Canaanite princess Asherah after defeating the Canaanites. Along with Asherah, he brings back all the Israeli women held captive in the castle of Canaanite King Jabin. One of these women, Nogah, a half-Israeli half Canaanite slave girl, is also the half sister to Asherah. Nogah, with a heart of gold and the brain of a scholar, begins to fall in love with Barak even though he is bound and determined to marry Asherah.
Barak is gruff, rugged, lovable, and completely delirious to what is transpiring between the half sisters in his household. He knows nothing of Nogah’s ancestry and has become quite attached to her, yet remains fixated on her sister. Asherah, on the other hand, is hell bent on revenge for the deaths of the Canaanites, while also plotting to rid the house of Nogah.
Deborah returns to judge the situation between the sisters, fully realizing the situation that is taking place. Nogah leaves the comfort and protection of Barak and his household when he marries Asherah, warning everyone to reveal nothing of her whereabouts. Her heart breaking, Nogah undertakes a journey of her own. Later seeking the council of Deborah, Nogah’s path becomes clear. What she does not know is that the man she loves is desperate to find her.
Deborah is a truly respectable character and woman, and this respect is not lost on the other characters. As Asherah, Deborah, Nogah, and Barak all find their respective ways, Eva Etzioni-Halevy brings their stories together. There are no loose ends in this beautifully descriptive book.
Eva Etzioni-Halevy has also written two other books of Biblical Ficton, The Song of Hannah and The Garden of Ruth. I am anxious to read both of these and I hope they are as fluid, descriptive, and enjoyable as The Triumph of Deborah was.
Lauren is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to working on her own personal writing, editing Messy Magazine, and writing for multiple sites, Lauren is also currently pursuing her MFA in English. More of her work can be found at : messymagazine.org and goldiesays.wordpress.com.