JERUSALEM RISING: ADAH’S JOURNEY
I have taught the story of Nehemiah many times. Nehemiah helped restore the wall around Jerusalem and also led a revival among the people of Israel. In the list of builders, I read about Shallum and his daughters. Wait! Girls helped build the wall? Women construction workers? Adah’s story was born. We don’t know the names of Shallum’s daughters, or how many daughters he had, but I have named them Adah and Judith. Action, adventure, and romance await these girls as they work with Nehemiah to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Rising is my favorite novel in Barbara M. Britton’s Tribes of Israel series. Primarily because when I read Nehemiah 1-8, and then read this story, it was evident how the author took great pains to hold closely to the biblical narrative. Why is this important to me? In part, because I love the Word of God. Also, because it would sadden me for someone who does not read their Bible to confuse a work of fiction with the truth of scripture. That being said, when an author takes a portion of scripture and imagines an entire life around a minor player or event, I can enjoy the story and at the same time feel prompted to revisit the Source.
In Jerusalem Rising, Britton drew her protagonist Adah and her family from Nehemiah 3:12, which reads “Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters” a portion of Jerusalem’s wall. Shallum’s daughters, who are twins in this story, are the only women mentioned among the list of exiles who worked on the wall. Therefore, I was not surprised when the author characterized Adah as a strong-willed and bold young woman. While she occasionally tests the cultural norms of women during this period, she upholds the Law and shows great concern for the honor of her parents. Her primary flaw may be that she relies too much on her own strength—something many of us can relate to.
Britton goes beyond the physical demands of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall to address other challenges and the sins of the people. This includes how they sinned by inter-marrying with gentiles (Ezra 10:3), pressed their neighbors into slavery (Neh 5:5), and faced political enemies (Neh 2:19) as well as false prophets (Neh 6). All of this fit snugly within the story, keeping the plot taught and my interest high.
If you have not read the other books in this series, Jerusalem Rising takes place far enough in the future from Building Benjamin that it can stand alone. Here at the end of book three, I can say that I’m thrilled with the direction she’s taking. History buffs, bible nerds, and biblical fiction fans will appreciate Jerusalem Rising.
I received a copy of this book for free, a favorable review was not required of me. All opinions expressed are my own.
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