A lot of us have Israel on our bucket lists. I know it’s on mine. Take those larger-than-life Old Testament heroes.
Even if your only interaction with them was back in Sunday School, most of us have some vague memories of those tales from days of old. And their stories never grow tired.
In times like ours, the long-gone B.C. days may even seem like simpler times. A life of farming for many. God. Family. Marriage. Children. Old Age.
But not so fast…those times put the brute in brutal. Remember the three men the king put in the firey furnace? How about poor Daniel, cast into the lion’s pit just because he prayed to God instead of the king?
These two stories are integral to Mesu Andrews newest book, the novelization and exploration of the Old Testament story of Daniel.
Title is linked to Amazon and there are no spoilers ahead:
Covering the span of seventy years, beginning with the Babylonian capture of Jersusalem and the murder and enslavement of its people, OF FIRE AND LIONS is told through the point-of-view of Daniel, a teenaged prisoner of the Babylonians and nine-year-old Abigail, a young girl who witnessed the murder of her mother and a miracle of Yahweh as she hid in the temple.
But her hiding spot was not for long. Abigail, too, was taken captive, and that’s when her path crosses with Daniel and his three Jewish peers, who went on to become known by their Babyloian names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
For a brief respite, Abigail (who is renamed Belilli by her captors) remains with Daniel and his friends as a serving girl.
But when an aristocratic daughter of Babylon sets her eye on Daniel as a future husband, Belilli’s life is threatened and she barely escapes town.
Belilli suffers at the hands of men, but soon turns hard as she serves as a high priestess in the temple of a false god. Of course, her duties are primarily sexual.
One man, however, does not mind Belilli’s past and he takes her for his wife. Together they have a son, but as the years go by, his interest in his wife wanes and then he dies.
Belilli’s path crosses Daniel’s once again–who, although he too married another, is now a widower. The two grieve their losses and then marry each other.
But Belilli is keeping her role as a high priestess of a false god secret from her husband.
As the two go on to raise children, Daniel’s role in the government of Babylon contines to grow as he is a trusted member of the king’s court. All the while Belilli’s secret threatens her relationship with her husband and her children throughout the decades that follow.
This is a love story between two soulmates, but it is also a love story between God and his people. Especially since Daniel is well aware of God’s promise to return the Jewish people to Jerusalem after a seventy-year exile. Will God allow Daniel to be part of the exodus of the Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem?
All this is in doubt–especially when Daniel is sentenced to die in the lions’ den.
How will Daniel’s family surive without his leadership and love?
There are so many twists and turns in a story told from the dual points-of-view of Belilli (aka Abigail) and Daniel. It is evident that author Mesu Andrews researched her book meticulously and her rich detail adds to the enjoyment of the story. The reader is literally transported back to 605 to 536 B.C.
And while Daniel is referred to in the Old Testament as a Eunich, Andrews took it in the sense that a Eunich is a government official who serves the king, rather than the classic sense of the word.
In this way, the author was able to place Daniel in the role of husband and father, which truly enhanced the dramatic tension in the story.
An extremely satisfying read, Mesu Andrews delivers a winner in OF FIRE AND LIONS.
It will make you thank the Lord you were born into a time such as now.
Foxy Rating Scale – Five Foxes out of Five
Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!