~ About the Book ~
Seeking peace and safety after a hard childhood, Leah marries Judah, a strong and gentle man, and for the first time in her life Leah believes she can rest easily. But the land is ruled by Antiochus IV, descended from one of Alexander the Great’s generals, and when he issues a decree that all Jews are to conform to Syrian laws upon pain of death, devout Jews risk everything to follow the law of Moses.
Judah’s father resists the decree, igniting a war that will cost him his life. But before dying, he commands his son to pick up his sword and continue the fight–or bear responsibility for the obliteration of the land of Judah. Leah, who wants nothing but peace, struggles with her husband’s decision–what kind of God would destroy the peace she has sought for so long?
The miraculous story of the courageous Maccabees is told through the eyes of Judah’s wife, who learns that love requires courage . . . and sacrifice.
Series: #2 The Silent Years (each novel is a stand-alone)
Genre: Historical Fiction (the stories take place between the end of the Old Testament, and the beginning of the New Testament)
Release date: 2 January 2018
Publisher: Bethany House
~ Excerpt ~
I did not know what to think of Judah Maccabaeus. He fought in the street like a wild lion, but today he had reminded me of a large, ungainly puppy, the sort who might roll over and let you rub his belly if you approached him in the right way.
Father would approve of Judah Maccabaeus, but not on account of the man’s virtues. Father would approved because Judah’s father was a Levite, and the priests still wielded a measure of authority in Jerusalem. The Temple of Adonai no longer demanded respect or reverence, yet the priests had power because they had been born into the line of Aaron. Gentiles could defile the Temple, steal her treasures, and bully their way into the courtyards once reserved for Jews, but they could not change the bloodline of an authentic Levite.
Yes, Father would approved of Judah, the priest’s son. Mother would approved of the ungainly puppy.
As for me? I saw no reason to approve or disapprove of him. I had encountered him only three times, and unless our fathers met and hammered out a betrothal agreement, I might never see him again.
And yet . . . my heart had danced when I looked up and saw him standing at my booth—not once, but twice. His smile seemed to wrap me in an invisible warm blanket, and those brown eyes—all the brothers had nice eyes, but Judah’s seemed to hold shifting stars that shone with the most lovely light.
What was it about him that made my knees tremble? Did all girls go through this sort of thing, or had I eaten something that addled my senses?
“He is nothing to me.” I said the words aloud, not caring if a passerby heard me talking to myself. Hearing the words spoken outside my head made them real, gave them context. In the world outside my market booth, Judah Maccabaeus and I had nothing to do with each other, nor were we likely to have anything to do with each other.
But he had come here . . . twice. Father had met him. And Father knew of Judah’s ties to an old priestly family.
I dropped to my knees behind the half wall, hiding myself from prying eyes. “Holy HaShem,” I prayed, pressing my hands together, “if it be your will, find a way for Judah Maccabaeus to be my husband. Please, Adonai. I do not ask for many things, but this I ask with every breath, hope, and desire that is in my heart. Amein.”
I stood and braced myself on the counter as I considered my prayer. I had probably wasted my breath, just as I wasted my entreaties when as a child I begged Father not to hit Mother. When Father didn’t listen, I had begged HaShem to stop my father’s angry firsts, but my prayers had been no more effective than wishing on the moon.
But in case HaShem was listening, and if I had done something to please Him, perhaps this time He would hear and answer His neglected daughter’s prayer.
~ Review ~
I have always found it interesting that the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes is prophesied in Daniel, and yet the account of the Maccabees’ courageous stand against him is not part of the official Biblical canon (although it is a part of the Apocrypha in I & II Maccabees). The story of the Maccabean Revolt is well known to Jews through the annual celebration of Hannukah, which commemorates the rededication of the Temple following its purification, but it’s less well known to Christians unless they’ve studied the prophecies of Daniel or intertestamental Jewish history. So when I found out that Angela Hunt’s next book was going cover the Maccabean Revolt, I was eager for a front row seat.
Having said that, it’s a pretty ugly and brutal time in Jewish history, and for that reason, I think it was a great decision to make the historical events the backdrop for what is in some ways a coming-of-age story—and a moving one at that. From a young girl who lived her life in constant fear of her father’s violence and doubted HaShem’s love, Leah grew to be a woman of strength who could see HaShem’s loving hand even in the midst of her sorrow. But it was not an easy path.
One of the greatest strengths of this novel is Hunt’s portrayal of Leah’s and Judah’s characters; they were complex, but entirely believable. Judah was both a gentle giant and a ferocious warrior, and Leah’s struggle to understand and accept this was a big part of her journey. So too was her struggle to understand genuine love in all its different guises—both here on earth and from HaShem in heaven—and to reach a place where she could offer that love in return, particularly to Judah. It’s a testament to Hunt’s storytelling ability that this maturation in Leah was so convincing amidst the upheaval and violence she so abhored.
Backed as it was by Hunt’s solid historical research and masterful narrative, this was a gripping and emotional read.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Previous Book in the Series ~
Read my review for Egypt’s Sister.
~ About the Author ~
Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With nearly five million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to novels.
Now that her two children are grown, Angie and her youth-pastor husband live in Florida with Very Big Dogs (a direct result of watching Sandlot too many times). This affinity for mastiffs has not been without its rewards–one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest canine in America. Their dog received this dubious honor after an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for the dog and the Hunts, complete with VIP air travel and a stretch limo in which they toured New York City. Afterward, the dog gave out paw-tographs at the airport.
When she’s not home writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course.