Book Review | Judah's Wife

Judah's Wife
The Silent Years #2 // A Novel of the Maccabees
Angela Hunt

Bethany House | January 2nd, 2018
Historical Fiction, Biblical History, Christian

{GoodReads}
Seeking peace and safety after a hard childhood, Leah marries Judah, a strong and gentle man, and for the first time in her life Leah believes she can rest easily. But the land is ruled by Antiochus IV, descended from one of Alexander the Great's generals, and when he issues a decree that all Jews are to conform to Syrian laws upon pain of death, devout Jews risk everything to follow the law of Moses.

Judah's father resists the decree, igniting a war that will cost him his life. But before dying, he commands his son to pick up his sword and continue the fight--or bear responsibility for the obliteration of the land of Judah. Leah, who wants nothing but peace, struggles with her husband's decision--what kind of God would destroy the peace she has sought for so long? 

The miraculous story of the courageous Maccabees is told through the eyes of Judah's wife, who learns that love requires courage . . . and sacrifice.


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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
I am going to be completely honest:  I did NOT enjoy this book.  This is my personal opinion, and I will not look down my nose on anyone who disagrees with me.  It was simply not my cup of tea.  That said, I will do my best to give a fair and simple review, sharing what I believe needs mentioned and such -- pros AND cons.  :]

First of all, this is written entirely in first person, BUT from the perspective of two different people: Leah and Judah.  I had never read such a style before.  Normally, if a novel is first person and has multiple point-of-views (story is told from the views of more than one character), the secondary characters are in third person.  This kind of threw me off at first.  While both Judah and Leah had extremely different personalities and it was easy enough to keep them separate in each chapter, I wasn't very fond of this style.

{Positives}
Judah comes from a strong family in mind and faith.  They look out for each other, and while the brothers often brawl together in wrestling matches, it is all in good fun.  Their father, a well-known priest, encourages them in the way of their Lord, and they strive under his example to live by faith.

Leah has much to learn.  It is a long and difficult journey, but eventually she comes to learn the purpose HaShem (more on the name below) has for her in her life and embraces it, no matter the cost.

Once they are married, Judah's family welcomes Leah as their own, and she finds a place and an actual, loving family with them.

{Negatives}
Leah's father was abusive to her and her mother (the mother more so).  Because of this, her actions and love seems rather limited.  She is fearful of her new husband and what he could potentially become -- someone like her hypocritical and temperamental father.  She is not an open person, and keeps her emotions to herself.

At one point, Judah's older brother Johanan attempts to manipulate and discourage him from his role as commander of the Israelite army.  He felt as the older brother that it should have been him to lead, not Judah.  (Eventually, they all accept Judah as leader and no love is lost.)

You must remember in the era that this novel takes place, women were to be submissive and quiet, expected to do as they were told without question.  Some of the wives of Judah's brothers seem a little bitter at times because of this expectation.

{Spiritual Content}
This is a fictional account of the Jews in the four hundred "silent years" from the last book of the Old Testament to the first of the New.  We may never know exactly what happened in all those years, but history can give us a peak at what it may have been like.  The capitol city of Jerusalem was under the rule of a wicked king.  The great Temple was defiled as the Greek infiltrated their own culture and customs and rituals into the city.  This greatly grieved the pious Jews who lived and worshiped the One God, or HaShem (or Jehovah), as He is known in this tale.  Scripture is quoted -- many from the Psalms of David or the Proverbs of his son, Solomon.  The story is divided into at least four parts, and at the beginning of each verses from the book of Maccabees is shared.

When the capitol city falls to the king, heavy laws forbid worship of Jehovah and enforce the people to eat unclean foods, such as swine.

Judah has strange dreams and visions that could be interpreted to represent things in the future.  (Personally, I did not see the point in them.)

Characters pray and fast and cry out to God for deliverance.  They feast in His honor and sing and dance His praises.  Faith runs strong in the midst of death and difficulty. 

{Violence}
Street fight between young men over the honor of two young girls -- mainly just fisticuffs.

Judah's family moves to Modein, just in time to escape the devastation in Jerusalem.  But the aftermath follows them there in the form of king's officials.  The men attempt to make the people of Modein, and Judah's family in particular, sacrifice to the king.  In response, Judah's father (and then his sons) kill the men for blasphemy -- a distant cousin, and coward, who was willing to sacrifice to save himself and family, was killed in the scene as well.

Judah was called as commander of the army of Israel.  And this is a tale of war.  Blood and gore abound.  Tortures, massacres, dismembering, beheadings, etc. etc.  I will not go into detail as I believe you get the picture.  But in short, the wicked king sends his soldiers to ravage the great city.  Millions are killed (this book has one of the HIGHEST body counts I've ever read. . .) and tortured -- families, children, infants, old and young. 

Jerusalem falls.  People are tortured and led through the streets.  Countless battles, numerous victories (at first), some losses.  Soldiers and volunteers are cut down with swords, slings, spears, daggers, etc.

{Language; Alcohol & Drugs}
None.

Wine is a celebratory drink, as well as one to forget one's pains and difficulties in life.

{Love-y Content}
As a newly married couple, Judah and Leah are rather awkward at first and later rather intimate.  No details, just normal husband-wife things. . .  It was an arranged marriage, but they come to love and care for each other.  Leah conceives, but after three long days of labor, the infant is born dead.  (Obviously, she is torn by grief and afraid of what her husband will do -- though she's been shown time and again, Judah is NOT like her father.  In anger she argues with him to beat her or kill her; she swipes at his face with a blade, leaving a shallow cut on his jaw.)

{Conclusion}
There's more I could add, and if you love the Biblical, historical side of stories, then you may very well enjoy this one.  I encourage you to give it a try!  I just could not get into it.  Leah was an absolute brat, in my opinion, and annoyed me to no end.  I found myself wanting to slap her silly.  Grrr. . . I apologize, but I just did not connect with this story.  She does come to her senses (by the END of the book), and gives her husband her full support, encouraging him as she ought, and eventually accepting his role as commander.  Judah, on the other hand, was an upright and righteous young man, who gave his all to his God and was used greatly by Him.  I must say this though, [SPOILER] this novel does not have a happy ending. . .

16+

2 comments

  1. I have a problem with split first person POVs too - half the time because I don't realize that the characters switch right away.

    Great review, Sarah!

    Catherine
    catherinesrebellingmuse.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Exactly! I just read a sample of another book that did the same thing. Ugh, must be too distracting for me to enjoy. Ah well, there's far more good books in a library's ocean! ;D

    ReplyDelete

To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, and a book of rules,
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.
-Anonymous-