"The Triumph of Deborah" by Eva Etzioni-Halevy is a Biblical novel about Deborah, the Judge and Prophetess of Israel. With great precision and creativity Eva Etizioni-Halevy draws a historical picture of the history of conflict between Israel and Canaan. It is a time of turmoil. Those in power one day are not in control the next day. Those in slavery became free according to who conquered and who became conquerors. It is a time when women had a huge role to play in history. For instance, Deborah, the Israelite, who prophecies and commands the strategies of the Israelites war against the Canaanites. There is Jael, another woman, who will murder a Caananite leader, King Sisra, for the sake of her people.
There is also a slave girl named Nogah. Nogah crossed the boundaries of both the Israelite world and the Caananite world because she was born biracial. Through her eyes Eva Etzioni-Halevy gives a view of Nogah's life. Her father is King Jabin, a Caananite. Her sister, Asherah, is Caananite, and her mother, Reumah, is an Israelite. Because of a complex racial and religious heritage her life, in these Biblical times, is fragile and fascinating.
Then, there is Barak who carried out the commands for the soldiers that were spoken by Deborah. Barak is another complex character. He wears the blue fringe around his garments which testify to the fact that he is a keeper of Torah law. Sadly, his flesh is weak. Too often, like Samson, a pretty woman can dismember his values like a Levite priest might disjoint an animal for sacrifice. It's not surprising how many lives are disrupted by his boundless appetite.
I loved Uriel, the scribe. Uriel becomes Nogah's tutor and protector. He is old and wise beyond his years. There are many characters to despise and love in "The Triumph of Deborah." Along with the well rounded characters, there is interesting history. The gods and goddesses worshipped by the Caananites, the thirty day mourning period of the Israelites and the healing arts used during this era. For birth control, "insert a rolled-up strip of linen, coated with an ointment of beeswax mixed with olive oil..."
It is impossible to read this book without feeling transported to another world. Eva Etzioni-Halevy has written a wondrous novel. I am left trying to hum The Song of Deborah in order to remember the journey I have taken in the past few days. I look forward to reading more books by this talented author, Eva Etzioni-Halevy. This is truly a magnificent novel.