Book Review: The Triumph of Deborah

Expanding upon historical accounts of the ancient conflict between the Israelites and Canaanites, Etzioni-Halevy has created a vivid, richly textured tale of feminine courage. In going against her husband Lapidoth’s wishes, he divorces Deborah after sixteen years of marriage. Although she is a respected leader, men in general and Sisra, the Canaanite leader in particular, mistakenly think of Deborah as inconsequential. In a premonition, Deborah sees the Canaanite leader being killed by a woman, a prophecy that eventually comes true when Jael drives a stake through his head. Deborah succeeds in rallying General Barak and the Jewish fighting force into engaging the superior Canaanite army, an engagement Barak wins due in part to a weather fluke. Taken as spoils of war was Sisra’s young bride, Asherah and her half-sister Nogath, both daughters of King Jabin. Although Barak marries the beautiful, vengeful Asherah, a tangled love triangle develops between him and the two sisters. Deborah with her keen insight into the personal price of warfare and the cold, calculating Asherah remain the primary focus to the story making this tale as much a journey into the workings of the heart as a historical vision.

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