Book Review: Miriam

15 Mar

The Hebrews call me prophetess, the Egyptians a seer.
But I am neither. I am simply a watcher of Israel
and the messenger of El Shaddai.
When He speaks to me in dreams, I interpret. When He whispers a melody, I sing.

At eighty-six, Miriam had devoted her entire life to loving El Shaddai and serving His people as both midwife and messenger. Yet when her brother Moses returns to Egypt from exile, he brings a disruptive message. God has a new name – Yahweh – and has declared a radical deliverance for the Israelites.
 Miriam and her beloved family face an impossible choice: cling to familiar bondage or embrace uncharted freedom at an unimaginable cost. Even if the Hebrews survive the plagues set to turn the Nile to blood and unleash a maelstrom of frogs and locusts, can they weather the resulting fury of the Pharaoh?
Enter an exotic land where a cruel Pharaoh reigns, pagan priests wield black arts, and the Israelites cry out to a God they only think they know.

Mesu Andrews grew up with a variegated Christian heritage. With grandparents from the Pilgrim Holiness, Nazarene, and Wesleyan Churches, her dad was a Quaker and mom charismatic. As you might imagine, God was a central figure in most family discussions, but theology was a battlefield and Scripture the weapon. As a rebellious teenager, Mesu rejected God and His Word, but discovered Jesus as a life-transforming Savior through the changed life of an old friend.

The desire for God’s Word exploded with her new commitment, but devotional time was scarce due to the demands of a young wife and mother. So Mesu scoured the only two theology books available — children’s Bible stories and her Bible. The stories she read to her daughters at night pointed her to the Bible passages she studied all day. She became an avid student of God’s Word, searching historical and cultural settings as well as ancient texts and original languages.

Mesu and her husband Roy have raised those two daughters and now enjoy a tribe of grandkids, who get to hear those same Bible stories. Mesu’s love for God’s Word has never waned. She now writes biblical novels, rich with spiritual insight learned through fascinating discoveries in deep historical research.

Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes (Revell) — the story of Job and the women who loved him — won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year in the Debut Author Category. Her subsequent novels have released with high praise, shedding light on some of the shadowy women of Scripture. Love’s Sacred Song (Revell, 2012) tells the story of the beloved shepherdess in King Solomon’s Song of Solomon. Love in a Broken Vessel (Revell, 2013) tells the story of Hosea and Gomer and is the final stand-alone novel in the Treasures of His Love Series. Her fourth novel, In the Shadow of Jezebel (Revell, 2014) tells the fascinating story of Queen Athaliah and the courageous Princess Jehosheba.

The Treasures of the Nile series (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2015-16) included The Pharaoh’s Daughter and Miriam and spanned Moses’ life from birth to the Exodus. Her 2017 release, Isaiah’s Daughter (Waterbrook/Multnomah), explores the life and ministry of the prophet Isaiah and the tumultuous days of Judah under the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah but focuses on the woman Hephzibah — a fascinating character in Jewish legends.

Mesu writes in their log cabin tucked away in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Her best friend is an American Staffordshire Terrier named Zeke, who keeps her company on long writing days. Zeke also enjoys watching movies, long walks in the woods, and sitting by the fireplace on rainy days.


My Impressions:

I chose Miriam by Mesu Andrews as a complimentary resource for my Bible study group, Faith And Fiction. A fictionalized account of a particular Bible story or figure is a great way to see the cultural context and to foster a more in-depth reading of scripture.  My group looked at all three accounts of Miriam in the Bible — her childhood encounter with Pharaoh’s daughter, her song of deliverance following the crossing of the Red Sea, and her grumbling against Moses’ leadership. The novel Miriam covers less than Biblical narrative — the time of Moses’ return to Egypt following 40 years of self-imposed exile, the plagues imposed by God on the Egyptians, and the deliverance of the Hebrew nation from the Egyptians. It was an interesting what-if that made our group think about what life was really like for the enslaved Hebrews and the impact the plagues had on their lives. Also included in the book are the interactions between Miriam, Aaron, and Moses. Andrews sets the stage of Miriam’s jealousy documented in the book of Numbers. There are also a number of characters, some mentioned in scripture and others purely fictional, that add color and depth to the narrative. While the book is not my favorite from Andrews, it does have wonderful spiritual messages which resonated with me — the urgency of telling people about God, the need to trust even when we don’t understand, and the powerful work of God through His people and nature.

I had a slow start with Miriam, but as the story unfolded (especially during the plagues) I became much more engaged. It definitely is an intriguing look at a well-known Bible story that will make you look at scripture a little closer.

Recommended for fans of Biblical fiction.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased Miriam from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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