~ About the Book ~
Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love, for each other, for their God, and for his tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.
Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband’s new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah’s cruelty count for nothing? Why does God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?
Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Series: #4 Daughters of the Promised Land (each book stands alone)
Release date: 6 February 2018
Publisher: Revell Books
~ Excerpt ~
Hannah’s hands grew moist as she walked slowly from Malka’s tent to her parents’. Elkanah’s form came into view in the moonlight as she passed her brothers on their way to join their families. She did not miss their smiles and mild chuckles as they passed. She would take the brunt of their teasing tomorrow, but for tonight, at least, they would allow her this moment.
She reached the spot beneath the awning where Elkanah waited and glanced at the open tent door. No sign of her parents, but she had no doubt they stood near enough to hear.
“You came.” Elkanah spoke first. “But of course you would.” He seemed as nervous as she, which put her strangely at ease.
“Well, my father did summon me.” She smiled, meeting his gaze.
He motioned for her to sit on the ground, for they could not walk away from the tent.
“Let me gather some cushions first.” She hurried into the tent, nearly bumping into her mother. “I don’t want him to sit in the dirt,” she said, snatching the cushions the men had used when eating.
Her mother merely nodded and Hannah hurried outside again and placed the cushion on the ground for Elkanah. She sat opposite him and clasped her hands in her lap.
“I hope you are at ease?” Suddenly she was nervous again with the knowledge that her parents were listening.
“Quite,” he said. He folded his robe beneath him. “I suppose if I’m going to keep my word, I’d better start.”
A lump in her throat kept her from speaking. Could he hear the way her heart pounded at the look he gave her?
“I have asked your father for permission to marry you, Hannah. Will you accept me and become my bride?” He looked almost uncertain, which seemed strange since her father had likely already made the arrangements.
“Yes, of course. I would be most happy to become your bride.” Hannah smiled, and he reached for her hand.
“We will have the betrothal when we return and set the date for the wedding.” He touched her chin and gazed into her eyes. “Which I hope is very soon,” he said softly.
She smiled shyly. “As do I.”
Hannah’s mother appeared at the tent’s opening. “I think it is best for you to come in now.”
Hannah stood, thinking the time much too short. But by all accounts she was now spoken for and would soon legally belong to Elkanah. Her heart beat in a new joyous rhythm at that thought.
~ Review ~
I found it impossible not to get caught up in this story as Hannah, the mother of Samuel, struggles with the shame of her barrenness despite her faithfulness to God. Even if you have never known that pain and despair personally (or the pain of having to share your husband, for that matter!), I guarantee you will feel as though you have by the time you finish this novel.
It can be difficult for modern readers to understand why a God-fearing man would take two wives, but Jill Eileen Smith did a good job of making Elkanah’s decision understandable (in context) even as the wisdom in doing so remained questionable. Over the course of the novel, Peninnah and Hannah became a study in contrasts, each responding in completely opposite ways to being denied the thing they want most—Peninnah, with bitterness and selfish ambition, and Hannah, by clinging to the Lord and refusing to repay bitterness in kind.
Obviously, my heart went out to Hannah. And yet, I couldn’t help but be sympathetic to Peninnah, in spite of her character. The author did great justice to her by considering why Peninnah might have been so antagonistic towards Hannah and shaping her story accordingly. You can see what lies at the root of her bitterness and the way in which her circumstances water those roots, and I actually found myself hoping that she would eventually break free from that destructive cycle. I’ll let you discover for yourself whether those hopes were realized!
The story plays out against the backdrop of the corrupt priesthood of Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas, and as always, Jill Eileen Smith’s historical and Biblical details are well-researched, enhancing the retelling. Recommended for lovers of Biblical fiction.
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 Books in the Series ~
~ About the Author ~
Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the Daughters of the Promised Land series, the Loves of King Solomon series, the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and the bestselling author of the Wives of King David series. When she isn’t writing, she can often be found reading, biking, traveling, spending time with friends, or snuggling her feline writing buddy, Tiger. She especially enjoys spending time with her family.