The Hebrews call me prophetess, the Egyptians a seer.
But I am neither. I am simply a watcher of Israel
and the messenger of El Shaddai.
When He speaks to me in dreams, I interpret. When He whispers a melody, I sing.
At eighty-six, Miriam had devoted her entire life to loving El Shaddai and serving His people as both midwife and messenger. Yet when her brother Moses returns to Egypt from exile, he brings a disruptive message. God has a new name – Yahweh – and has declared a radical deliverance for the Israelites.
Miriam and her beloved family face an impossible choice: cling to familiar bondage or embrace uncharted freedom at an unimaginable cost. Even if the Hebrews survive the plagues set to turn the Nile to blood and unleash a maelstrom of frogs and locusts, can they weather the resulting fury of the Pharaoh?
Enter an exotic land where a cruel Pharaoh reigns, pagan priests wield black arts, and the Israelites cry out to a God they only think they know.
The story of Moses continues in the second book of the Treasures of the Nile series. Miriam, as most of us remember from Sunday school days, was the young girl who observed her baby brother being pulled out of the bulrushes by an Egyptian princess. Readers of The Pharaoh’s Daughter, the first book in the series, will recall that she became the trusted handmaid of Princess Anippe and saw her brother grow up in the court of the Pharaoh.
Many years have now passed: Moses is in exile in Midian, and Miriam is an 86 year old spinster who feels she has a special relationship with God. But lately, He’s been strangely silent and, when Moses returns and announces that God has been speaking to him, Miriam isn’t happy. As a result, at times she comes across as a spoiled child, unwilling to share with her little brother. It takes a man she almost rejects to help her see the Lord in all His goodness. Meanwhile, members of her family are trying to save their lives while serving their Egyptian masters, and Moses’ pronouncements of various plagues aren’t helping matters.
The book begins with a first person prologue from Miriam’s perspective. It’s short, and demonstrates her relationship with El Shaddai and her family. From chapter one, however, it’s third person narrative all the way with perspectives from Miriam and her nephew, Eleazar, who’s the personal guard to one of Pharaoh’s sons. Eleazar is defensive and angry through most of the book, so, when I researched him, I was surprised to find that he succeeded Aaron as Chief Priest. Both characters interact with Hebrews, Egyptians, and other foreigners, and I was struck by the revelation that the Gentiles were also offered a path to safety. Everything builds up to the Pharaoh forcing the Hebrews to leave before changing his mind and chasing after them. You know how the incident at the Reed Sea will end, but the tension builds as his army closes the gap between them and the Hebrews. You’ll feel as relieved as the former slaves when they are saved by Yahweh’s power.
There was a lot of violence in The Pharaoh’s Daughter, something I still shuddered at when I reread it in preparation for Miriam. While there are some descriptions of the Hebrews being tortured and punished by their Egyptian slave masters, the level of brutality described is much lower than in the first book. Life is still very difficult for the slaves, but I found the book easier to read. I still recommend reading these books as a series, although Miriam can probably stand alone. I’m also hopeful we’ll get another book about this period of Biblical history, although I don’t currently have any information that I can share regarding one.
Thank you to Mesu Andrews and Waterbrook Press for my complimentary Advanced Reading Copy of Miriam, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Do you plan to read Miriam? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Waterbrook Press (a division of Penguin Random House)
Publication Date: 15 March 2016
Page Count: 384