Saturday, 3 September 2011

Book Review 7: Zipporah, Wife of Moses

Book Title: Zipporah, Wife of Moses
Author: Mark Halter 
Price: P165.00 (National Bookstore, Hardbound for Sale)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Number of Pages:  270
Personal Rating: 7/10 
Reading Difficulty: Medium (3/5)

Book Summary (Inside book cover)

In the time of the Pharaoh, a tiny infant is rescued from the banks of the Red Sea. She is named Zipporah, "the little bird." Although she is a Cushite by birth-- one of the black people of the lands to the south-- she is taken in by Jethro, high priest and sage of the Midianites. Jethro adores his adopted daughter, and she is an honored member of his family. But the blackness of Zipporah's skin sets her apart and will decide her future: she is an outsider, and the men of her adopted tribe will not want her as a wife.

But when she becomes a young woman, Zipporah's destiny changes forever. While drawing water at a well one day, she meets a handsome young man, a stranger. Like her, he is an outsider, a foreigner. His name is Moses. A Hebrew raised in the house of the Pharaoh, Moses is a fugitive, forced to flee his homeland of Egypt after murdering one of the Pharaoh's cruel overseers. Zipporah knows almost immediately that this man will be the husband and partner she never thought she would have.

At first Moses wants nothing more than a peaceful life with the Midianites. He is content in his role as Zipporah's lover and the honorary son of Jethro the sage. But Zipporah refuses to let Moses forget his past or turn away from what she believes to be his true destiny. Although he is the love of her life and the father of her children, Zipporah won't marry Moses until he agrees to return to Egypt to free his people. When God reveals himself to Moses in the burning bush, his words echo Zipporah's, and Moses returns to Egypt with Zipporah by his side. A passionate lover and a generous, thoughtful wife, Zipporah becomes the guiding force in Moses' struggle. With the help of her powerful father, she teaches the rebellious young man about the rule of law and the force of justice. Because of Zipporah-- the outsider, the black- skinned woman-- Moses becomes a defender of the oppressed and the liberator of the enslaved. 

A woman ahead of her time, Zipporah leaps from the pages of this remarkable novel. Bold, independent, and a true survivor, she is a captivating heroine, and her world of desserts, temples, and ancient wonders is a fitting backdrop to an epic tale.

Personal thoughts

I read this book upon the recommendation of my cousin. Seeing that I was too immersed in reading historical novels based in Europe, I decided to have a go at this to have a 'breath of fresh air.' By doing that, I learned a great deal about Moses and the other characters that revolved around him, especially his great wife, Zipporah the Cushite.

As we all know, Moses is the adopted son of a pharaoh who eventually killed an Egyptian overseer, forcing him to go to another place. Zipporah enters the picture in this scene as described in the book summary above. Both of them are immediately drawn towards one another, which is the start of their great, but tumultuous love story where I learned a lot of things from. 

First of all, I learned that Zipporah is one of the greatest influences in Moses' life in terms of him finding enough courage to do God's will. Without her coaxing, Moses wouldn't have gone back to Egypt to fulfill his role. Second, I've seen that there are theories that Queen Hatshepsut could be the Egyptian pharaoh who took Moses out of the water and became his mother. This shocked me the most since I've read some books about Hatshepsut and I never suspected that she could be the mother of Moses; all of this is just speculation of course since the name of Moses' mother was not really mentioned. It's just that, it never crossed my mind that historical facts that I'm aware of can really coincide with the biblical plot. The third learning that I garnered from this book is that Moses really made big sacrifices to do his duty, which was really heartbreaking. This is a spoiler so you can skip the last sentence if you want... I'm just saddened by the fact that Moses' two sons died of a stampede caused by his own people and that Zipporah was murdered leaving him all alone. To add salt to his injury, his two siblings were depicted as power- hungry individuals in this book so Moses really died as a lonely man...

So as you can see, I did have several learnings from this book which  I really appreciate. Other than that though, I also have a certain appreciation for this book because it was good at echoing the personality of each of the characters involved especially Zipporah. You wouldn't have guessed that the author was male when you see how he delved into the feelings of Zipporah.! Mark Halter's writing style definitely deserves an applause... This is one of those rare books where the reader can readily assume the character of the protagonist! He was really consistent in terms of putting into writing what Zipporah could have been thinking and feeling at that time... And, he did it effortlessly unlike other writers who try too hard! So, would I recommend this book? Yes, but only to those interested in stories like these otherwise, you might get bored easily.

Favorite Excerpts

Words also become stones if you throw them too hard.-- Jethro

A man who has killed another man can lie to conceal his sin. But a man who confesses his murder without anyone asking him-- why would he lie? His confession prove he has a strong sense of justice that won't allow him to lie.-- Jethro

Nobody knows doe certain what dreams tell us. They come to us at night and there is something dark about them. But they can also be as blinding as the brightest sunlight. The wise men says, 'Live your dream in sleep, but do not let your life become a sleep.'-- Jethro

The moment I saw her, may your god strike me dead if I lie, my one hope was to have her become the woman I spend my days and nights with. Whenever she looks at me, I feel confident. When she's by my side, not even the iciest of winds give me gooseflesh. As soon as she's far from me, I feel cold and weak. My sleep is filled with nightmares, so I spend my nights with my eyes open, thinking about her-- Moses

There are always many reasons not to do what we fear. Often they seem like wise reasons. But anything bred by fear is always evil.-- Zipporah

Why assert today what may prove false tomorrow? Life is made of time and so is love.-- Jethro

Ehye asher ehye. I am that I am.-- Yahweh

Anxiety is making you unjust, and injustice heals no wounds.-- Yokeved
Freedom is like water at the bottom of the well. We must learn to bring it out into the light of the day, and then we must learn to drink it.-- Moses

Who though will remember Zipporah, the black woman, the Cushite? Who will remember what she accomplished? Who will speak her name? May this book serve as her humble tomb.-- Mark Halter, book author

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