J Jill Eileen Smith is known for her Biblical fiction featuring the women of the Bible. Liz Curtis Higgs, one of my most favorite authors, has also made a career of retelling those Bible stories which feature women, but Higgs changes the settings to another historical time period. When I read Higgs's personal review praising Smith's version of Rahab, I knew I wanted to read the book. I was NOT disappointed.
Smith paints Rahab with sympathetic strokes, making it clear how few rights a woman had in Old Testament times -- an arranged marriage at a young age, a foolish and greedy husband, a deceptive "friend" who twists his own lustful desire into slavery, plus the shame of barrenness. All these details lend plausibility to Rahab position as a prostitute willing to help the enemy, the Israelites, who promise safe asylum for her family. The early part of the book makes Old Jericho comes alive with-- the excesses, the false gods, the emptiness. Soon even the powerful are crippled with fear of Israel's God. Later readers are given a glimpse of what challenges Rahab would have faced once she joined the victorious Israelites.
Mercy and forgiveness are key themes of this book, and I loved the way Smith works the parable of the man who was forgiven much who then turns around and demands payment of a lesser debt from another into the story of Rahab's husband. This is the first book I have read by Jill
Eileen Smith but I will reading more of her Old Testament retellings. I received a review copy of this title from Revell Reads. All opinions are mine.