Trapped beneath 400 years of Egypt’s injustices, the Hebrew people await deliverance from generations of Egyptian slavery. But while it is still dark, God is at work. Young Jochebed is unaware the Master Weaver is preparing her to mother three formidable leaders: Miriam, Aaron, and Moses. Shiphrah, the half-Egyptian midwife tasked to kill Hebrew male newborns, remembers childhood stories of a merciful God and cannot resist His call on her life.
Two women, each following the dangerous path God has set before them—this is their story
I’ve not come across a novel about Moses’ mother before, although she has appeared in other novels about him. This is Texie Susan Gregory’s debut novel. I have no idea what to expect from it.
This debut novel imagines the life of Moses’ mother up until she surrendered her son to the reeds of the River Nile. Who was she? How did she meet her husband? What made her decide on her course of action? According to Gregory, Jochebed was a fatherless adolescent whose relatives decided she should marry the widower, Amram. A passage in Exodus describes Jochebed as “his father’s sister.” This relationship isn’t highlighted in Slender Reeds, but she is very young when she marries and I calculated that she was 13 when she gave birth to Miriam. Although life in Egypt is difficult, Jochebed still finds time for her friendships with a cousin, Lili, and an abused girl named Shiphrah who comes to live with her family. Pharaoh’s decree impacts these relationships with devastating results.
There were times when I honestly didn’t enjoy reading Slender Reeds because of its violence. Shiphrah is abused by a parent, the slaves are whipped for the slightest infraction, and Pharaoh kills with impunity. There’s a horrible scene where Jochebed witnesses babies ripped from their mothers’ arms and murdered. Pharaoh Ramses is a complex figure: he’s pure evil towards the Hebrews and his enemies, but is portrayed as extremely loving to Queen Nefertari and also shown as insecure about his place in history. I’m also not sure about Shiphrah having an Egyptian background. The scene where Jochebed walks away from baby Moses is heartbreaking and the book ends on a depressing note. I don’t know if Jochebed lived to see her son lead her people to freedom, but I would have loved to seen this written. An epilogue led me to think there might be a sequel but it doesn’t look like there will be one.
Thank you to Barbour Publishing for my complimentary copy of Slender Reeds: Jochebed’s Hope.
Do you plan to read Slender Reeds: Jochebed’s Hope? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press (an imprint of Barbour Publishing)
Publication Date: 01 November 2016
Page Count: 320