Deborah: Mother of Israel is a comfortable tale of the renowned Old Testament judge (Judges 4-5). The book exalts her as a woman of integrity and faith, endowed by God with extraordinary wisdom. Deborah uses this wisdom to flawlessly dispense justice in difficult civil cases among her countrymen, while continuing in her responsibilities as a young, small-village Israelite woman.
Ms. Lake fills in the biblical account with skirmishes between the Israelites and their northern nemesis, the Canaanites, under the leadership of the evil Sisera. In one raid by Canaanite soldiers on her village's livestock, her betrothed is killed, and another villager, Lappidoth, is severely wounded. Deborah helps nurse Lappidoth back to health, a process during which they become attracted to each other, then finally marry (Judges 4:4).
Over the years, the Canaanite oppression becomes so intense, something must be done. The fragmented Israelite tribal confederation seeks unity, looking to Deborah for spiritual leadership and to Barak for military expertise. The story reaches its climax in the battle against Sisera's overwhelming army, and the Israelite's subsequent victory, largely due to Deborah's inspiration.
Ms. Lake strictly follows the scriptural account of the famous Israelite prophetess, only creating fictional characters and scenes where necessary to propel the historical account to its well known conclusion. She also scatters snippets of biblical history throughout the story, providing some insight into the life and times of ancient Israel. The story ends with an antiphonal rendering of Deborah's and Barak's song of victory (Judges 5).
Fans of the Old Testament figure of Deborah will likely appreciate Ms. Lake's pristine rendering of her character. And those who love to loathe the vile Sisera will find plenty to fan their fire in the pages of Deborah: Mother of Israel.
And don't miss the just-released discussion/studyguide to go along with it: Deborah: A Woman in a Man's World. Superb.
Bruce Judisch, a Senior Information Operations Analyst for the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center is the author of three novels—The Journey Begun, The Word Fulfilled, and Katia (OakTara). www.brucejudisch.com