Book Review: The Crimson Cord

9 Feb

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

Hebrews 11:31

720342Wife to a gambler who took one too many risks, Rahab finds herself sold as a slave to cover her husband’s debt. Forced into prostitution by Dabir, counselor to the Syrian king, Rahab despairs of ever regaining her freedom and her self-respect. But when Israelite spies enter Jericho and come to lodge at her house, Rahab sees a glimmer of hope and the opportunity of a lifetime. In one risky moment, she takes a leap of faith, puts her trust in a God she does not know, and vows to protect the spies from the authorities. When the armies of Israel arrive weeks later, Rahab hopes they will keep their promise, but she has no idea what kind of challenges await her outside Jericho’s walls–or if she will ever know the meaning of love.

Under Jill Eileen Smith’s talented hand, the familiar story of Rahab bursts forth in high definition. Readers will find themselves fully immersed in a world of dark and dusty streets, clandestine meetings, and daring escapes as a mysterious biblical figure claims her full humanity–and a permanent place in readers’ hearts.


2799806Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling author of Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba, all part of the Wives of King David series. Her research into the lives of David’s wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Her collection of Bible study helps and books on culture and history, along with an abundance of novels fills at least one shelf or bookcase in nearly every room in the house.

She loves movies, travel, dark chocolate, black tea, stories with great characters and plots twists, and nights when she doesn’t have to cook! She and her husband Randy have been married for 34 years and together they have three grown sons. During 12 years of homeschooling, Jill studied the craft of writing with her eye on a future career. She has visited most of the continental United States (with the exception of the East Coast) along with Hawaii, Canada, and Israel. She has taught women’s Bible studies and piano, and enjoys encouraging young writers. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.


My Impressions:

Biblical fiction done well moves the reader to discover more, to dig deeper, into scripture. The Crimson Cord by Jill Eileen Smith does that and more. Smith’s re-imagining of the story of Rahab brings to life the clashing cultures of Canann and God’s people as they enter the land to claim it, as well as a credible account of Rahab’s life before and after the walls fell in Jericho. Both the account in Joshua and references to Rahab in the New Testament served as the inspiration for this excellent  story. If you are a fan of Biblical fiction, this one is a must read.

The Crimson Cord begins with a young Rahab, abused and used by her husband and forced into prostitution. Unable to prevent the unfolding circumstances, Rahab plays the game that keeps her alive and her family safe. But Rahab never fully accepts her lot in life and hopes for a future that includes freedom from men and their control. When she hears of a God who leads a large company of people, her spirit responds. But can a God who demands strict obedience show mercy to a woman like her?

Smith’s novel has many strengths. Characters are real and relatable, a true test of great writing. Modern readers will have no problem putting themselves in the place of Rahab, the two spies and the many minor characters that support the narrative. The place and time of Jericho are also brought to life. Smith’s painstaking research is evident in the detail given to home life, religious practices and the role of women in the cultures of both the people of Canaan and the children of Israel. The contrast of life among these two peoples, sets the stage for the important spiritual truths Smith explores. Themes of justice and mercy are woven throughout the novel. Rahab struggles with her sin in the face of the obvious mercy God has shown her. Her statement of faith — There was no reason to doubt a God who could part the Red Sea (page 169) — prompts the reader to examine what he/she really believe about God.

The Crimson Cord does not sugar coat Rahab’s life (abuse and brutality), nor does it seek to soften the demands God put on his people (circumcision and blood sacrifice). It does what the Scripture it portrays does — points the reader to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

So, run don’t walk to your local book store or online retailer to get The Crimson Cord! The first book in a new series, Daughter of The Promised Land, I look forward to many more by Jill Eileen Smith.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to the author and Revell for my review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click HERE.

4 Responses to “Book Review: The Crimson Cord”

  1. Karen Collier February 9, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Great review. I never really thought much about the circumstances surrounding Rahab’s life before the Biblical account. This sounds like an interesting read.

    • rbclibrary February 9, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

      Thanks, Karen. The book is definitely a “what-if”, but a great fictional account that is faithful to the Biblical narrative. Smith created fictional relationships and situations, but nothing that detracts from the message of God’s truth. It only points to it! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Carole February 9, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    I always appreciate your thoughtful reviews, Beckie. Books like The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas, Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell, etc. got me hooked on biblical fiction back in the late 60s/early 70s, yet very little today compares to those classics. But I tried Jill Eileen Smith’s last book and really loved it. This one is in my stack and I’m sure I will love it as well.

    • rbclibrary February 10, 2015 at 8:06 am #

      I appreciated the emphasis on faith and God’s undeserved mercy in this novel. There is a scene in which the people are offering their blood sacrifices for the covering of their sins. Very powerful. Hope you enjoy the book. And thanks for the encouraging words!

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