Outspoken and fearless, Deborah has faith in God but struggles to see the potential her own life holds. As an Israelite woman, she’ll marry, have a family, and seek to teach her children about Adonai–and those tasks seem to be more than enough to occupy her time. But God has another plan for her. Israel has been under the near constant terror of Canaan’s armies for twenty years, and now God has called Deborah to deliver her people from this oppression. Will her family understand? Will her people even believe God’s calling on her life? And can the menace of Canaan be stopped?
Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the bestselling The Crimson Cord and the Wives of King David series, along with the Wives of the Patriarchs, Daughters of the Promised Land, and The Loves of King Solomon series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.
Having studied and taught the book of Judges, I was very familiar with the story of Deborah before reading Jill Eileen Smith’s novel, The Prophetess. But what an eye and mind opener this novel is! Following closely the Biblical narrative, it brings the story of Israel’s oppression and triumph to life. Jill did a great job of making me think about the characters as real people. She also focused on the God of Israel — both just and merciful as He deals with his disobedient children. A story from ancient days, Jill makes her readers think about its relevance in today’s culture. This suspenseful book gets a highly recommended read from me!
The days of Deborah are filled with fear as the people of Israel hide from the terror that is Sisera. As the Canannite king’s man, Sisera kills, kidnaps and tortures God’s people. The people cry out to God, but He remains silent as some still seek other gods. Deborah is the judge and prophetess who calls the people to repentance and leads them in victory against their oppressors.
As I stated above, the Biblical characters of Deborah, Barak, Lappidoth and Jael became very real to me. Without adding to the meaning of scripture, Jill fleshes them out by exploring the what-ifs of their lives. She also adds a few fictional characters who compliment the story without jeopardizing God’s truth. I love Biblical fiction for this very thing, because it puts me in the characters’ lives. How would I have reacted to their experiences? Idol worship led to Israel’s troubles, and it is easy to say we would never act that way. But Jill shows how insidious disobedience is and the great chasm it causes between God and His people. In the course of the book, Deborah asks God why it has taken 20 years for him to respond to the people’s prayers. This is what she learns:
They had left Adonai and true worship of Him for the gods of these nations they now battled to overcome. This was not a war of peoples but of the rights of gods to rule. Whose god held the power of life and death? Whose god could destroy both soul and body in Hades? Asherah and Baal? Or Adonai Elohim, the Lord God Almighty?
One of the most interesting what-ifs explored is the relationship between Deborah and Lappidoth. In a world where women had few if any rights, Deborah spoke for God. What kind of man would her husband have been? I think Jill does an excellent job of creating a character mentioned only briefly in scripture.
So if you are looking for a book that will stretch your imagination, fill you with suspense and make you turn to scripture, then check out The Prophetess.
Audience: older teens to adults.
Great for book clubs.
To purchase this book, click HERE.
(Thanks to the author for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)