The Triumph of Deborah

The Triumph of Deborah

by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

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Overview

The richly imagined tale of Deborah, the courageous Biblical warrior who saved her people from certain destruction

In ancient Israel, war is looming. Deborah, a highly respected leader, has coerced the warrior Barak into launching a strike against the neighboring Canaanites. Against all odds he succeeds, returning triumphantly with Asherah and Nogah, daughters of the Canaanite King, as his prisoners. But military victory is only the beginning of the turmoil, as a complex love triangle develops between Barak and the two princesses.

Deborah, recently cast off by her husband, develops a surprising affinity for Barak. Yet she struggles to rebuild her existence on her own terms, while also groping her way toward the greatest triumph of her life.

Filled with brilliantly vivid historical detail, The Triumph of Deborah is the absorbing and riveting tale of one of the most beloved figures in the Old Testament, and a tribute to feminine strength and independence.

The third book in Eva Etzioni-Halevys novels featuring women of the Bible. This is biblical fiction at its best.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452289062
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/26/2008
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Eva Etzioni-Halevy is professor emeritus of political sociology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. She has published fourteen academic books and numerous articles, as well as two previous biblical novels. Born in Vienna, she spent World War II as a child in Italy, then moved to Palestine in 1945. She has also lived in the United States and spent time in Australia before taking up her position at Bar-Ilan. Eva lives in Tel Aviv with her husband; she has three grown children.

Reading Group Guide

(NOTE: We recognize that reading is a personal experience, and we hope that the author interview and questions below will provide a springboard to provoke a lively discussion.)

 


INTRODUCTION
Tensions between the Israelites and the Canaanites have been mounting for years, but finally Deborah—the wise and revered judge of the Israelites—decides it is time to strike out against the enemy before the enemy strikes in full force against them. She calls on Barak, an equally revered warrior, to lead the call to war. Under his leadership, the Israelites destroy the Canaanite army, and Barak takes as his prisoners the daughters of the late Canaanite king.

Deborah’s decision to rely on Barak, however, costs her dearly. Her husband Lapidoth divorces her, knowing Barak’s reputation as a womanizer and suspecting the warrior of ulterior motives in his dealings with her. Deborah, cast off and lonely, begins to develop an attraction for Barak—all the more complex because Barak has begun to develop feelings for his royal prisoners.

While Deborah, Barak, and the Canaanite princesses Asherah and Nogah struggle with their loyalties to their pasts and their present desires, the nation of Israel struggles to maintain its tenuous peace in the wake of a victory over its neighbor and enemy.

A romantic, masterfully written piece of fiction, The Triumph of Deborah celebrates the wisdom and the superior guidance of one of the Bible’s most powerful and wise women, while also exploring the complex nature of loyalty: to one’s nation, to one’s family, and to one’s own sense of self.

 


ABOUT EVA ETZIONI-HALEVY

Eva Etzioni-Halevy is professor emeritus of political sociology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. She has published fourteen academic books and numerous articles, as well as two previous biblical novels. Born in Vienna, she spent World War II as a child in Italy, then moved to Palestine in 1945. She has also lived in the United States and spent time in Australia before taking up her position at Bar-Ilan. Eva lives in Tel Aviv with her husband; she has three grown children.

 


A CONVERSATION WITH ALEXANDRA ENDERS
Q. This is your third novel written about biblical heroines. What about Deborah’s particular story did you find compelling?

A. I found Deborah’s personal tale, as described in the Bible, particularly intriguing. The scripture tells us that when Deborah instructed warrior Barak to go out to war against the Canaanites, who threatened Israel with destruction, he demanded that Deborah accompany him to the battlefield. It further recounts that she ended up going with him to his hometown as well. Yet she was a married woman and a mother, and the text does not indicate that the husband, Lapidoth, accompanied her, and certainly her children would not have gone out into the battlefield.

Long before deciding to write the novel, as I read the story, I began asking myself: what did her husband have to say about that? What would any husband say if his wife went off to distant parts with another man? It makes good sense that this created marital problems between them. Would they be able to overcome those problems? Further, I asked myself, what transpired between Deborah and Barak when they were together with no husband in sight? These were the aspects of Deborah’s story that I found most compelling, and they prompted me to write the novel, in which I used my imagination to answer these questions.

Q. You’ve had to do a significant amount of research in the past to write about the ancient Israelites. Did this new book require new research?

A. In addition to the research I used for my previous novels, I visited the major sites in which the action of The Triumph of Deborah takes place, not once, but twice. These sites include the River Kishon, Mount Tabor, Hazor, where there are excavations of King Jabin’s castle (although you need to use a bit of imagination to visualize how it looked then, in contrast to what it looks like now), and a nearby museum that displays artifacts from the castle.

By the way, as a teenage girl, I lived for three years in a town, which is close to both the River Kishon and Mount Tabor, so I have been familiar with the sites since my youth.

Q. One of the subjects of the novel is judgment. There’s Deborah’s revered judgment atop the Mountains of Efraim; the Canaanites’ judgment of the Israelites, and vice versa; and then individual characters judging one another (with or without enough information to make a sound judgment). Did you have a particular theme in mind when you began writing the novel? Did it ever change? What would you consider the most powerful message of the book?

A. The theme of judgment is certainly prominent in the novel. But, importantly, The Triumph of Deborah brings to life one of the most beloved biblical figures, Deborah, who was not “merely” what we might call today the Chief Justice of the land. In addition, she was also a prophetess, that is, the highest religious authority and an adored political leader, something in the nature of a contemporary president. Arguably, Deborah was the most eminent woman in the Bible (Old Testament.)

To my mind, the most powerful message of the novel, directly based on that of the Scripture, is that Deborah succeeded in attaining this outstanding position, despite the fact that the circumstances for women—their legal position and status in the family—were most limiting at the time.

Further, the novel shows that in her own life Deborah was very much a woman, and that her femininity did not detract from her stature as national leader. Thereby it pays tribute to Deborah’s feminine strength and independence, from which present-day women, seeking to build lives of their own and assert themselves in whatever they choose to do, may derive inspiration. The lesson that women today can learn from Deborah is: “I can do it. No matter how difficult the circumstances, I can overcome them.”

As with Deborah, so also with women attaining high-ranking positions today: There is no evidence to show that they are less feminine (attractive, gentle, showing empathy to others, motherly) than stay-at-home moms.

Finally, The Triumph of Deborah describes a prominent woman leader who led her people to war but also to peace. Hence it should be of special relevance in an American presidential election year in which a female candidate is a frontrunner, a year in which the topic of female leadership in time of war and peace will be most prominent on the agenda.

The message that emerges between the lines of the novel is that a woman leader is capable of leading her nation to war whenever necessary, and to peace whenever possible.

Q. Do you see yourself continuing to explore your roots through these stories about biblical heroines? What do you find most rewarding about creating historical fiction that is also based in your faith?

A. It so happened that rather late in life, as part of searching for my Jewish roots, I began reading the Bible on my own, and I was fascinated by it.

What enthralled me was that the people described in it, although they lived thousands of years ago, were so strikingly similar to us in their hopes and fears and anxieties. That so much has changed, yet human nature has not. I took an amazing journey thousands of years back in time, yet when I arrived, I felt myself back at home.

I was also enchanted by the fact that the people in the Bible, even the most exalted heroes and heroines, are described not as angels, but as true human beings, with strengths but also with weaknesses, many of which stemmed from their sexuality, and also by the fact that the women in particular are presented as intensely sexual persons.

I began to identify in particular with the women, whose feelings and impulses I could visualize as if they were my own. So I began to write about them, stories of love and betrayal and redemption through more love and friendship, written for reading pleasure, yet meticulously faithful to the Bible—a divine yet also a very human collection of books.

What I find particularly rewarding is that I was attracted to those heroines as part of searching for my roots in my faith, and the more I wrote, the more my faith was strengthened. Certainly I hope to continue in this vein.

Q. Are you writing anything new right now? What can we expect to see from you next?

A. I am now working on my fourth novel about women in the Bible, tentatively named The Ruse of Tamar. It concerns the second Tamar in the Bible, the daughter of King David, she who was the victim of incestuous rape by her brother Amnon. Based on the biblical text, the novel depicts the trauma that the abuse caused the young girl to suffer, and then goes on to show how in time she succeeds in rebuilding her life through her feminine strength and her love for a mysterious young man, whose true identity is revealed only toward the end of the novel. All this takes place against the backdrop of various intrigues in King David’s court, which are described in the Bible and elaborated on in the novel.

However, the novel is still at an initial and rudimentary state, and I can only hope that my readers will bear with me for a while, until I bring it to its conclusion.

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • This book begins with two women looking out from “high places”—Deborah, from the mountain where the battle between the Israelites and the Canaanites had begun, and Asherah, the beautiful young daughter of Deborah’s enemy, the Canaanite king, from the roof of her father’s castle. The book also follows a third young woman, Nogah, the product of King Jabin’s affair with an Israelite slave woman. Whose story did you personally find most compelling? Which woman did you sympathize with the most, and who did you sympathize with the least?
     
  • At the start of the novel we learn about Deborah’s problems with her own husband of sixteen years, Lapidoth, and his jealousy of her relationship with Barak (which, up to that point, is a professional one). Was Lapidoth’s divorcement of Deborah as surprising to the reader as it was to Deborah?
     
  • When Deborah not only agrees to consider Barak’s terms, but willingly fulfills those terms upon his return from battling the Canaanites, how does her character change? Is she wiser or more foolish for her affair with Barak? Consider how this particular experience affected her ability to judge people fair and objectively.
     
  • Discuss Sisra’s death. Did Jael deserve to be ostracized for her actions, or were they actually heroic? Consider the difference between Deborah’s approval of Jael’s actions, and Barak’s reaction. How very different would the story have been if Sisra had died in a more expected manner?
     
  • Nogah goes from being a slave in the royal Canaanite palace to becoming one of its noble members almost overnight. This transition allows her to appreciate both aspects of her heritage—that of her Canaanite father and her Israelite mother. Discuss how Nogah’s knowledge and respect for both people make her a key player in the conflict between the two nations.
     
  • While the book follows primarily the thoughts and actions of its female characters, it also allows brief glimpses into the psyche of Barak, the courageous and cunning warrior who stops the Canaanite threat to Israel. How do we see Barak change over the course of the novel? How would you describe him at the onset of the conflict with the Canaanites, and what qualities does he take on (or shrug off) by the novel’s end? Is he a likeable character? Is he as compelling to the reader as he is to Deborah and Nogah?
     
  • While Asherah has had a far more privileged background than any other character in the book, she proves to be intelligent and resourceful as she plots to kill her new husband as revenge for the death of her first husband, and as she tries to diminish Nogah’s place in Barak’s household, and in his heart. Discuss how her own allegiance to her Canaanite background is both her saving grace and her undoing. Compare her devotion to her homeland to Nogah’s devotion to Israel and its people.
     
  • Nogah’s trip to see Deborah, and then to leave the scroll she has created with Gilad in the house of the Lord in Shiloh, marks a transformation in the young woman’s life. Discuss the extent of her accomplishment: obtaining Deborah’s version of the tale, plus the Song of Deborah, and gaining Deborah’s approval; then traveling to Shiloh and convincing the elders to house the scroll there. What does this do for Nogah’s sense of self, and for how others view her? How does she change as a result of the trip?
     
  • Describe the trajectory of the relationship between Nogah and Barak, and how both characters became better people for their interaction with one another. What was Barak forced to realize and accept? What did Nogah teach him? What did Nogah learn about the desires of the human heart—similar to what Deborah learned through her separation from Lapidoth?
     
  • When Lapidoth fathers another child with a servant, what parallel emerges between the Israelites and the Canaanites? Consider the way Deborah dealt with the news of the servant girl’s pregnancy, and how it affected her relationship with Lapidoth. What good came out of this situation?
     
  • Consider the final meeting of the Canaanites and the Israelites under Mishma’s roof. What does this scene tell us about what has been gained and what has been lost by both nations?
     
  • How realistic is Etzioni-Halevy’s portrayal of ancient Israel? Does this story feel true to its biblical roots? What makes these characters from an ancient time relevant to twenty-first-century readers? What common struggles do we share?

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Triumph of Deborah 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
As her husband of sixteen years Lapidoth dumps her, prophetess Judge Deborah finds strength in knowing her people need her as war with Canaan is imminent. She knows her personal sorrow is minor when she expects mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters to soon be grieving for their men-folk, but Deborah rallies the Jews persuading General Barak to lead the sword-bearers to attack the overwhelmingly superior Canaanites. Shockingly he and his forces win, bringing back two special prisoners, the daughters of the enemy¿s mightiest king Jabin, legitimate Princess Asherah and illegitimate Princess Nogah. Barak is attracted to both.------------- In her third women of the Old Testament novelizations (see THE SONG OF HANNAH and THE GARDEN OF RUTH), Eva Etzioni-Halevy provides a powerful comparative tale of predominately two women, Deborah and Asherah. The story line focuses on their relative influence on their respective countries especially Deborah who understands deeply with a sad heart the cost of sending the warriors to war as some will die. With obvious modern day comparisons, readers will appreciate this biblical fictionalized biography as THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH vividly brings to life a dedicated strong individual who believes deeply in her cause, but truly comprehends the sacrifices she asks of her people.------------ Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Originally published at BlogCritics magazine by Barbara Barnett The Biblical story of Deborah tells of a strong woman a leader within her tribe. Found in the book of Prophets (Judges, chapters four and five), it is unique in several ways. Deborah was a rarity in the Bible (again, in several ways): she was one of only a very select few female prophets, and, unlike so many other women in the Bible, she had a name. But similar to her antecedents Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah and even Miriam, she was smart, strong and brave. The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevi novelizes and speculates about the characters and situations in the already very dramatic story of Deborah, her general Barak, Yael and Sisra. She is part of a long tradition¿an ancient tradition of mining Biblical texts to craft stories and present underlying meaning to the nearly-always sparely written ancient prose. It is an art called ¿Midrash¿ in Jewish tradition. We don¿t know how a woman got to be a ¿judge¿ (a tribal leader), and how she came to know and command Barak. We don¿t know anything about Deborah¿s husband except his name, Lapidot. We know only that Deborah sat beneath her tree and ruled. She went to war against a powerful enemy of ancient Israel and triumphed to become a legendary national hero. Likewise, we know little about Yael, the young woman who ended the life of the General Sisra, who led Jabin¿s army against the Israelites. We know only that she lured the battle-fatigued Sisra into her tent with the promise of milk and food. And then she drove a tent peg into his head. (Dramatic stuff, even for the Bible.) The Triumph of Deborah gives us much drama (and melodrama) upon which to chew. It¿s a very nicely written novel, filled with rich detail and a sense of history, that has appeal for anyone who wants to read the story of a great (and very human) heroine. Although it is set in ancient Israel, Deborah¿s story as told by Etzioni-Halevi is timeless and a good read. It¿s an excellent addition to a growing genre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My favorite aspect of 'The Triumph of Deborah' was how the illegitimate daughter of the Canaanite king, Nogah, was in constant conflict of who her loyalty should be with, her Jewish mother and her people, or her Canaanite father and his people. The situation was depicted so clearly, to the point where the reader felt Nogah's pain when she realized she could never bring those two worlds together. In the end, Nogah's decision to study Hebrew and the scriptures was rational given that her bond with her mother survived slavery and separation in a very fragile and uncertain world. Nogah's other conflict was disobeying her mother's wishes, and sleeping with Barak, the Israelite warrior, even though he was never loyal to any one woman, and even though he only considered her one of his maids and nothing more. She chose Barak above her pride, her mother's advice and all else, as she loved him with no expectation for anything in return. The reader tries to anticipate what Nogah and Deborah's next action would be throughout the book, and the reader is never disappointed with their choices!
Bbexlibris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Deborah is a woman who rises above the deep sadness in her life, that her husband just decided to dissolve their marriage, and gives all she has within her to protect her people, the Israelites. The Israelites are God's chosen people, but because of their lack of faith and obedience they are forced to wander throughout the desert and hope that they will be provided for, for rulers during this time they had a series of judges, Deborah being one of those judges.It was her duty to make the major decisions for her people as well as to resolve conflicts and make settlements amongst them. In a society where women were not educated, her father believed that she deserved the education just as much as her brothers did and she was taught the Torah at an early age. Even as a youth people would come to her from far away places after having heard of her wisdom and fair hand.The Triumph of Deborah is about love and war and most everything in between. Deborah suffers from the choice of her husband and is torn when a young dashing warrior beckons to her. It would be acceptable by law, but she still feels tied emotionally to her husband.I ended up enjoying this read more than I thought. I fell in love with Deborah, and I think if I had been a little older I would have loved her even more, she is strong and true and really gets things done. Of course, like all women she is riddled with emotion, but who can count that as a fault since we are all plagued by it!? I felt that Eva Etzioni-Halevy did a pretty good job with the writing, it isn't dazzling in its artistic appeal but it is still alive and fresh to read. The storyline had me intregued and involved. This is certainly a great book for any reader, but I specifically recommend it to those who enjoy a good Historical Fiction read. The Triumph of Deborah will be sure to please!
thetometraveller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The twelve tribes of ancient Israel have been in the promised land for nearly a hundred years, but theirs is not a peaceful existence. The Canaanites have never ceased to harass the tribes, attacking small villages, stealing livestock and killing any Israelite they come across. The only safety is in numbers and the Israelites have retreated behind the walls of their towns.The prophetess Deborah, a mother in her thirties, has been a powerful voice for the Israelites for years. She is known far and wide for her fair judgement and is a respected leader. She has received a vision that she must bring peace with the Canaanites. When her diplomatic efforts fail, she is forced to call the tribes together under a warrior who will lead them to victory. If the Canaanites will not agree to a truce, Israel must subdue them by force.Barak is a young warrior who has been very successful in retaliatory raids against the Canaanites. He has built up quite a bit of wealth, is strong and a natural leader of men. He is Deborah's choice to lead the Israelites. Unfortunately Barak has a reputation that precedes him. He is a lover of women, many women. This does not sit well with Lapidoth, Deborah's husband. He does not trust Barak and does not want Deborah anywhere near him. They have a huge fight and Lapidoth's anger and jealousy get the better of him, he divorces Deborah on the spot, after sixteen years of marriage.Despite the problems in her personal life, Deborah agrees to accompany the army to the battle against the Canaanites. While the war is a resounding success, it creates further problems for Deborah, who has developed a bit of a crush on Barak. He demands sexual favors of her in return for his participation in the war and she surprises herself by enjoying their encounter. Then he manages to capture two of the Canaanite king's daughters, Asherah and Nogah. Thus a love triangle (rectangle?) is born. Untangling the motivations and emotions of everyone involved will have a great impact on future events.What a great premise for a novel, to take biblical women who have little known background information and breathe life into their stories. The author does it beautifully, creating the landscape of ancient Israel so that the reader can experience it. She then brings her characters to life with human needs and emotions so that they shake off the dust of history and can be related to as people, just as if they were living today. It's the best kind of historical fiction and I recommend it!
schmadeke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Contrary to what the title might lead one to believe, four characters share center stage in this book: Deborah, Barak, Asherah and Nogah. Eventually, I came to appreciate each of them. I saw their faults, felt annoyed and frustrated with them, but in the end I also sensed good in each one. They all possessed certain admirable qualities, even though it was often those very characteristics that led them to behave in less than admirable ways.This novel gave life and texture to a period of time I previously knew very little about. The book begins with a war between the Israelites and Canaanites, in which Israel was victorious. A period of 40 years of peace follwed, and The Triumph of Deborah tells the story of how that peace came about, though the eyes of key players in the peacemaking process.As the plot steadily unfolded, I found it difficult to put this book down. I wanted Nogah, my favorite character, to get the guy - Barak, who she loved desperately and rather blindly. I wanted peace to reign between the Israelites and Canaanites. I wanted happiness for Deborah, because she was so good, so noble, so just, able to look past her personal feelings about people and situations and see the truth.Etzioni-Halevy has written two other novels, about well-known biblical characters Hannah and Ruth, and I look forward to reading both after being mesmerized by her story of Deborah.
zibilee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Triumph of Deborah tells the story of Deborah, Asherah, and Nogah, three women who must find their true path despite the difficulties that fate has dealt them. Deborah, an illustrious woman from the Bible, is widely known and respected for her role as a prophetess and judge to the Israelites. When Deborah receives a prophecy from the Lord that tells her that she must bring peace to the Israelites, she tries to negotiate peace between them and the Canaanites. But she is met with failure. She decides to persuade the great warrior Barak to form an army and defeat the Canaanites, an endeavor that proves to be successful. Upon his vanquishment of the Canaanites, Barak takes Asherah and Nogah, both daughters of the defeated Canaanite king, as captives in his home. Asherah, the legitimate daughter of the king, detests Barak and wishes to destroy him for killing her people. This is a problem for Barak, as he wishes to make Asherah his wife. Nogah, the illegitimate daughter of the king who was raised as a servant, feels differently about the man who has taken her captive. Despite her lowly position as his housemaid, Nogah falls desperately in love with Barak and must console herself with the fact that she doesn't exactly fit his notions for a wife. Meanwhile, Deborah begins to have problems in her marriage, and turns to Barak for affection and attention. The three women must examine and resolve their feelings for Barak and each other.Despite the biblical roots of this story, I found that it was not a heavily religious text. Most of the action revolves around the three women and each one's relationship to the man they have in common. Though the book is ostensibly about Deborah, she was perhaps the woman who was least focused on in the narrative. Despite her scarcity, I found her to be the most enjoyable character of the lot. She was the only female able to look at situations in an unguarded and altruistic way. Her legendary composure and forthrightness was refreshing and enjoyable. I found that Deborah had a presence of mind that was not affected by jealousy or pettiness, and she had the ability to draw intelligent conclusions whether she was focused on battle, love, or religion.On the other hand I didn't really understand Nogah's devotion to Barak. I never really saw good qualities in him. He was a notorious womanizer and seemed very selfish. Where Asherash's feelings of resentment towards Barak were plausible and valid, Nogah's feelings for him didn't seem all that realistic. He had very few positive personality characteristics, and Nogah's all-consuming love for him made her seem weak willed and naive. While I liked her character and enjoyed reading about her, I was silently wishing for her to move on with her life and find a man who would be able to love and appreciate her like she deserved. Despite Barak's prowess on the battlefield and his eventual evening out in temperament, I really didn't like his character. It was never really clear just why he was so attractive to the opposite sex, and despite his kind treatment of the women he bedded, he was shallow and vainglorious. I can't say that he was a total disappointment; there were aspects of his personality that were somewhat intriguing and benevolent, but overall he was a character that was hard to connect to and sympathize with.One of the things that was great about this book was the way it handled the religious aspect of the story. It was informative but not preachy. It made no judgement calls on the validity of polytheism, and the central focus of the story was not evangelism. Where many biblical fiction books get caught short in sermonizing, this book was just the opposite. It didn't attempt to moralize or judge the situations or characters involved, and the effect was a more even keeled and readable story. Another thing I particularly liked was the level of historical detail. Though I knew the story of Deborah, the author did a great job of explaining the reasons and ram
mawshimp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was blessed to receive a copy of Eva Etzioni-Halevy's latest book, The Triumph of Deborah, directly from the author. This book is fiction, but it is based on the bible story of Deborah, one of the more prominent Israelite judges in the Old Testament. The book doesn't just talk about Deborah, though. Barak, the commander of the Israelite forces, worked with Deborah in battles against the Canaanites. And from one of those battles, two Canaanite princesses - Asherah and Nogah - along with many other freed Israelite slaves, are brought into Barak's household. The stories of each of these very fascinating characters are woven together in this delightful novel. While I grew up in the church and have heard of Deborah, I did not know what information the Bible gives on her life. And I did not need it. Ms. Etzioni-Halevy gives great details and description on the culture and the laws in place during those times. When she described the times, there weren't lengthy, flowing descriptions of the land, the individual people, etc. Which is wonderful as I tend to get glassy-eyed with that type of writing and just skip over those parts. Rather, the information she included was weaved expertly in little bits within the story so that I didn't even realize I was getting a good historical picture of the times. I feel like I know Deborah, Barak, Asherah and Nogah and could relate to the thoughts, actions, and feelings of all of them. I felt like I wanted to spend time with them (except for the fact that I am very happy with all the modern conveniences!). I highly recommend this book. It has romance, war, women's friendship, and history all rolled up into one great novel. I think it would also be a great book for book clubs as there are lots of different paths and choices made that would make for great discussion.
awriterspen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Triumph of Deborah provided an interesting portrayal of the early conflicts between the Canaanite people and Israelites, and the important role Deborah played in attaining peace. Although nearly all of this novel is a fictional in nature, it provided a glimpse into a little talked about time period in Israelite history that is vastly different from today¿s society in terms of economics, justice, education, and human rights. Much of the novel focuses on Barak, a reluctant battle leader, and his earthly desires for women and prosperity. He is torn between two women, the one he loves, and his trophy wife. The story is rich in detail, and treats the reader to a story rich with romance, historical tidbits, and just enough conflict to keep it interesting. Three women play prominently in this story, Asherah, the Canaanite daughter of the defeated and deceased King Jabin; Nogah, the secret daughter of King Jabin; and Deborah, the Israelite Judge and Prophetess. Barak has throws his values out the window and pursues each women in turn, before finally realizing his true love. Deborah remains level-headed, honorable, and wise throughout the novel. It¿s easy to see why she is so admired and respected. At every turn she unselfishly helps anyone in need, and her heart reaps the rewards eventually. The character I most liked was Nogah. I found her life to be so fascinating as she moved from slave to Kings daughter, to maid, to scribe, to wife. She leads her life in the best way she knows how despite the odds against her at every turn. Very little of this book focuses on the Jewish religion, instead it¿s more about a time period in Israelite history. The writing is at times very formal, but I believe that adds to the overall historical romance feel. I'm not normally a big fan of romance novels, but I do enjoy biblical history and historical fiction, so this was a pleasure to read and certainly enriched my understanding of this time in history.
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Triumph of Deborah opens with the war between the Canaanites and Israelites. Set in ancient Israel during the historical period of the Judges, the novel is a fictional re-working of the life of Deborah, a powerful prophetess and judge of Israel. According to biblical history, the war between Canaan and Israel lasted forty years. Etzioni-Halevy centers her novel towards the end of this time period.Following the defeat of Canaan, Barak - a powerful man who leads Deborah¿s army - takes as prisoner the beautiful, cold-hearted Asherah, the daughter of the Canann King Jabin. He also provides shelter for Asherah¿s half sister (and King Jabin¿s illegitimate daughter) Nogah who becomes a maid in Barak¿s home. Barak is portrayed as a mysoginistic man who seeks carnal pleasure with many women including Deborah, Asherah and Nogah. Interspersed in the romantic plot of the novel is the politics, history and culture of 11th to 12th century Israel.Etzioni-Halevy has done her research and it shows. She aptly describes the agricultural lifestyle of the times, and introduces the prickly and complex leadership which made up the political structure of this theocracy. The battle scenes and aftermath are vivid and well-written. The central female characters demonstrate simultaneously the lack of women¿s rights versus with the strength and power they managed to wield in a world dominated by men. Women of this time period aspired not only to leadership, but sought to find their own voice through literacy¿and the novel¿s most convincing moments are those which bring the women characters to life.Etzioni-Halevy falls short, however, when she seeks to show the reader the intimate relationships between these women and Barak. At times the language feels stilted, awkward and contrived, especially during the love scenes. In fairness to the author, I must admit that the historical romance genre is not one I typically read or enjoy and so when the novel veered in this direction I found it off-putting. What Etzioni-Halevy does best is to create scene and historical context for her characters. and it was this part of the book which piqued my interest.Readers who prefer biblical fiction and historical romance will most likely enjoy this novel.
jo-jo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book that an author has asked me to review on my blog and I will admit that I really enjoyed this one. If you read the book of Judges in the Bible, you can understand how this story is believable, even though it is a work of fiction. I enjoyed how the author was true to the language at the time. The dialogue and sentence structures had an ancient familiarity to them, yet kept me intrigued and wanting to read more. Here is just a small excerpt that showcases the writing and how this novel followed the biblical story:Yet Deborah was left with a vague feeling that the celebration she had arranged did not elicit favor from the Lord. Perhaps this was because, though it had been planned for his glorification, it had aggrandized her and Barak as well. Or perhaps it was because the Lord was not pleased at the people's celebrating the downfall of their enemies. This was strictly forbidden by Torah law, which states:When Your enemy falls you shall not rejoice.pg. 188 A war is imminent between Israel and Canaan and the prophetess Deborah is charged with the task of leading Israel in this battle. Deborah seeks assistance from the powerful warrior Barak, in leading this mission. Little does Deborah know that Barak's only requirement for serving his country is to receive a reward that only Deborah can provide! This creates so much tension in Deborah's marriage that her husband divorces her. Upon the defeat of the Canaanite's, Barak decided that if any women were to his liking he would take them home to possibly serve as a wife to him. Since the end of the battle also released many individuals out of slavery, he offered his home as shelter to these people until they found a permanent resident. Asherah, the Canaanite King's daughter, instantly caught Barak's eye as the woman that he would take for his own and marry. But little did he realize that Nogah, an illigitimate daughter of the King, would also spark a desire within his heart.It was interesting to learn bits and peices of the Torah law. As an example, Barak kept Asherah in his home but would not have his way with her until she was given her 30 days of mourning after losing her family in the battle. Although this man was quite a player for his time, he was never known to force himself upon any woman. To help him bade the time during Asherah's 30 days of mourning, he would entertain himself with the company of various maids throughout his home. Since Nogah was living in his home as a maid after being freed from her slavery, Barak found himself spending more time with this plain, but not unattractive young lady.This novel is abundant with Israelite customs that are very interesting to read and compare to today's society. It is also a very passionate book that has you hoping that the characters get what they are looking for in their relationships. What I really loved about this book is that although I could feel the passion bouncing off of the pages, there really were not any sexually explicit scenes or obscene language throughout. I found myself liking almost all of the main characters at one point or another, whether they were Israelite or Canaanite. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think it would also make an interesting discussion for a book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Full disclosiour of the anthorus intent in writing this book
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-HalevyGenre: Biblical FictionThree women, each from different worlds, have their lives thrown into turmoil by the Israelite warrior Barak.Deborah, a prophetess and judge of Israel, offers him her body if he will take command of the Israelite warriors and defeat the Canaanites. When he does these things _ she gives what she promised and falls for him.Naava is a Canaanite princess _ but not your traditional one. She is the daughter of the king and a woman he kept as a slave. She has worked as a slave her entire life. When Barak takes the castle and takes her as one of his captives he doesn't know of her royal status. He takes her as one of his many lovers and Naava falls hard for him.Asherah is also a Canaanite princess. She is beautiful and smart and married to the leader of the Canaanite warriors. Like her sister, Barak takes her as one of his captives and decides he is going to make her his wife. Unlike her sister, she does not fall for Barak but instead wants revenge for the loss of her husband.The characters in the book were a mix of historical and fictional, but the way they are represented and described, you would never know which are which. Each character has a well developed back story, personality, desires, life. You develop an attachment to the characters and want what they want (I was especially attached to Asherah's story, right from the beginning). I didn't know anything about this period in time or the people in this book and like usual I went outside the text to find some background information. Interestingly, almost everything I found (from biblical texts as well as general internet searches) was included in the book. The author did an amazing job of keeping the book true to what is known to have happened while filling in the gaps history left behind.These women are strong women. Each one faces hardships, tests of character, moral decisions _ like each of us face every day. Even though these events took place a very long time ago _ they are still relevant to today. Women still face similar hardship and can still respond in similar ways.I have never been to the part of the world where this story is set, but the author takes careful time to describe it and it feels now like I have been there. It is so real to me and beautiful.Eva Etzioni-Halevy has 2 other books about strong biblical women out currently and is working on a fourth.4.5 out of 5 stars
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GabinaFS More than 1 year ago
The Triumph of Deborah By Eva Etzioni- Halevy Three women so vibrant, so different, each remarkable in her own way, yet all the same. Each of these women had battles to fight, sorrows to overcome and fears that needed to be allayed and comforted. In our time, today, we would expect our spouses and family members to create the support we need in order to overcome the fear of loss, assist in fighting our battles and listening to us when we feel vulnerable and unsure of where we are going and how to get there. In the Triumph of Deborah, our author weaves a web of intrigue, deceit, heartache and courage that follows each of the three amazing women intertwined in this novel of hope and understanding between the Israelites and the Canaanites. Deborah faced with an incredible task that my women would falter at and might declare defeat, has to find someone to help fight and lead Israel's army and come back victorious. Deborah is a the leader of her people and stands as their judge and jury when major decisions that we would face in our courts today come before her. Not only that, she has a special gift, that of being able to see visions of what will happen in the future in order to guide the present. She has been given the divine gift of prophecy. Endowed this gift by God, it is her position and her burden to find someone to lead the people and stop the increasing hardships and deaths at the hand of Jabin and Sisra of Canaan. Asherah is our second woman of courage and interest. The closely protected princes and daughter of King Jabin, she awaits the fate of her husband, Sisra who was sent to lead her people in battle against the Israelis. Beautiful, courageous and yet devious and smart enough to create and orchestrate situations whose outcome would be to her advantage; she captures the heart and soul of Sisra and many others along the way. But, is she truly happy and will she when all is said and done come out the victor? Finally, we have Nogah, whose mother is a maid and slave in King Jabin's palace and to King Jabin himself, who did not know that she was his daughter. Nogah was beautiful in her own right. While her sister would pray to idols and gold statues, she prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel. Asherah prayed for a victory for the Canaanites, and Nogah, as Deborah, the Israelis. Enter in Barak, the man Deborah has chosen to lead the Israeli army but at what price. Women during this time were supposed to be subservient to their husbands and follow and listen to their every desire. Not, our Deborah. She stands alone and has the courage and fortitude to put her people first at any cost to herself, including losing the man who claimed he cared about her and more. Barak, although agreeing to lead the Israeli army to victory imposed on Deborah a condition that would change her standing with her husband and her life forever. With an Israeli victory, Deborah now faces the fact that Barak has not only won but will once again demand payment from her for going to battle. Not only that, he has taken many of the Canaanite women as his maids, slaves and one in particular he decided to covet as his wife. Along with these slaves, he will meet Nogah, and the conflicts that he faces within himself will eventually tear him and many others apart. One man who changed the lives of three women in three different ways. Deborah whose feelings for Barak grew more intense as the days past since their first encounter. Asherah, who
Night_Owl_Romance More than 1 year ago
By Lisa of Night Owl Romance - www.NightOwlRomance.com This is a gripping story of a woman's triumph in a time where women weren't usually prominent in leadership positions. Told well, it traces a leader's questions, a woman's triumph, a mother's agony, and an individual's angst in decision-making and personal growth throughout the leadership of the small but growing nation of Israel. Halevy has done not only her profession proud, but also her heritage. Deborah was a joy to read, a true midrash of a pivotal woman in biblical history. Deborah is a wonderful book to add to the bookshelf, do a reading group on, or pass on to a friend. © WEtap MediaT LLC / Night Owl ReviewsT
erikarobuck More than 1 year ago
I've been enjoying a lot of Biblical historical fiction these days, and this book is no exception. Written in the style of The Red Tent or Sarah, The Triumph of Deborah uses everyday interactions, love stories, domestic and epic conflict to expand and animate Bible stories. We know so much of the men of the bible, and so little of the women, and these novels serve to show the cultural and familial importance of the women. To me, the book is primarily about two women: Deborah, a revered Israelite judge, and Nogah, a woman born of a Canaanite king and an Israeli slave. Deborah is divorced by her husband when she shows preference for a young, Israelite warrior named Barak. Barak leads the Israelites to victory, and returns with both the acknowledged daughter and slave daughter of the slain Canaanite king. A complicated love triangle follows between Barak and the women. It concludes with a deeply satisfying ending in which all of the characters experience growth and redemption. Ms. Etzioni-Halevy is a skilled writer. The book has a formality of language that gives it an air of myth-which I thought worked well for the text. Every page in the book sizzles with conflict and suspense, and it's hard to put down. Overall, I found this book a unique and fascinating look at the power and influence of women guiding men in history. It is a testament to their independence and courage. I look forward to reading more books by Ms. Etzioni-Halevy.
grapes63 More than 1 year ago
"The Triumph of Deborah" by Eva Etzioni-Halevy is a Biblical novel about Deborah, the Judge and Prophetess of Israel. With great precision and creativity Eva Etizioni-Halevy draws a historical picture of the history of conflict between Israel and Canaan. It is a time of turmoil. Those in power one day are not in control the next day. Those in slavery became free according to who conquered and who became conquerors. It is a time when women had a huge role to play in history. For instance, Deborah, the Israelite, who prophecies and commands the strategies of the Israelites war against the Canaanites. There is Jael, another woman, who will murder a Caananite leader, King Sisra, for the sake of her people. There is also a slave girl named Nogah. Nogah crossed the boundaries of both the Israelite world and the Caananite world because she was born biracial. Through her eyes Eva Etzioni-Halevy gives a view of Nogah's life. Her father is King Jabin, a Caananite. Her sister, Asherah, is Caananite, and her mother, Reumah, is an Israelite. Because of a complex racial and religious heritage her life, in these Biblical times, is fragile and fascinating. Then, there is Barak who carried out the commands for the soldiers that were spoken by Deborah. Barak is another complex character. He wears the blue fringe around his garments which testify to the fact that he is a keeper of Torah law. Sadly, his flesh is weak. Too often, like Samson, a pretty woman can dismember his values like a Levite priest might disjoint an animal for sacrifice. It's not surprising how many lives are disrupted by his boundless appetite. I loved Uriel, the scribe. Uriel becomes Nogah's tutor and protector. He is old and wise beyond his years. There are many characters to despise and love in "The Triumph of Deborah." Along with the well rounded characters, there is interesting history. The gods and goddesses worshipped by the Caananites, the thirty day mourning period of the Israelites and the healing arts used during this era. For birth control, "insert a rolled-up strip of linen, coated with an ointment of beeswax mixed with olive oil..." It is impossible to read this book without feeling transported to another world. Eva Etzioni-Halevy has written a wondrous novel. I am left trying to hum The Song of Deborah in order to remember the journey I have taken in the past few days. I look forward to reading more books by this talented author, Eva Etzioni-Halevy. This is truly a magnificent novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LaurenK More than 1 year ago
I have always been a huge fan of Biblical fiction. I think it's in part due to the fact that the Bible is a never ending wellspring of characters with little information provided about their backgrounds. The possibilities for great stories to emerge are limitless and Deborah's story is certainly one of these. The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy is a page-turner that I could not bring myself to put down. The novel focuses on the great prophetess and judge, Deborah. Deborah is divorced by her husband of sixteen years, Lapidoth, due in part to her choosing the great warrior Barak as the leader of the Israel army in its battle against the Canaanites. The decision causes much upheaval in her personal life, but Deborah never wavers in her resolve, knowing that Barak is the only one who can save God's people. Deborah is not the only central figure in the novel; she is merely the powerful force that lays the groundwork for the plot. Her power and influence is not lost on the three other main characters or the events that transpire. Barak captures the beautiful and mesmerizing Canaanite princess Asherah after defeating the Canaanites. Along with Asherah, he brings back all the Israeli women held captive in the castle of Canaanite King Jabin. One of these women, Nogah, a half-Israeli half Canaanite slave girl, is also the half sister to Asherah. Nogah, with a heart of gold and the brain of a scholar, begins to fall in love with Barak even though he is bound and determined to marry Asherah. Barak is gruff, rugged, lovable, and completely delirious to what is transpiring between the half sisters in his household. He knows nothing of Nogah's ancestry and has become quite attached to her, yet remains fixated on her sister. Asherah, on the other hand, is hell bent on revenge for the deaths of the Canaanites, while also plotting to rid the house of Nogah. Deborah returns to judge the situation between the sisters, fully realizing the situation that is taking place. Nogah leaves the comfort and protection of Barak and his household when he marries Asherah, warning everyone to reveal nothing of her whereabouts. Her heart breaking, Nogah undertakes a journey of her own. Later seeking the council of Deborah, Nogah's path becomes clear. What she does not know is that the man she loves is desperate to find her. Deborah is a truly respectable character and woman, and this respect is not lost on the other characters. As Asherah, Deborah, Nogah, and Barak all find their respective ways, Eva Etzioni-Halevy brings their stories together. There are no loose ends in this beautifully descriptive book. Eva Etzioni-Halevy has also written two other books of Biblical Ficton, The Song of Hannah and The Garden of Ruth. I am anxious to read both of these and I hope they are as fluid, descriptive, and enjoyable as The Triumph of Deborah was.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
VioletCrush More than 1 year ago
I had a sudden urge to read a historical novel this weekend. Since I own only a couple, the choice was easy. I had read a lot of reviews of 'Triumph of Deborah' and knew it was generally liked. So I didn't hesitate to pick it up. And yes, I liked it. In fact, I loved it. I had absolutely no knowledge about Deborah. So before reading the book I googled a little and found out that she was a highly respected prophet, a judge and a leader of Israel. And the fact that she was a woman and yet respected so much during that era was inspiring. Okay, let's jump to the book. Inspire of all her efforts, Deborah is unable to establish peace between the Canaanites and her people. Seeing that she has no choice but to go to war, she decides to appoint Barak as the chief. Barak is very young and inexperienced but she decides to trust him based on his past victories. Barak, although resistant at first, feels like he has no option. He leads Israel to victory against Canaanites. In the Canaan country, the King gives the responsibility of war to Sisra who also marries his daughter Asherah renowned for her beauty. The King has another daughter Nogah from an Israeli slave and whose knowledge is kept a secret. When Barak captures the Canaan Castle, he is smitten by Asherah's beauty, so he takes her as his captive. Nogah accepts a job as a maid in Barak's mansion. Thus begins a love triangle between Barak, Asherah and Nogah. Barak is smitten by Asherah and Nogah is in love with Barak, but Asherah hates Barak because she thinks he is responsible for her husband Sisra's death. She waits for an opportunity to kill Barak and make him pay for his deeds. Deborah, meanwhile, through her prophecies and her visions helps avoid another was between Israel and Canaan. In the end, Deborah, Barak, Asherah and Nogah help in bringing peace to the land. Deborah is very strong willed and admirable. She is true to her people and is willing to sacrifice her personal life as well. I was surprised that I had never read much about the love triangle in any of the reviews. Considering it takes up more than half of the book, it's a major part of 'Triumph of Deborah'. I love romance books so I was in fact happy that there was this angle to it. But I do think some people might be annoyed by the number of chapters dedicated to it. So I just thought of mentioning it here. I learned a lot about Deborah as a biblical character. The writing style is simple which makes it easier to get engrossed in the story. Although I won't call it a character driven novel, I felt strongly about all of them; be it Deborah, Nogah, Asherah or Barak. In fact I hated Barak. He was a womanizer and he let his lust overpower all his senses. Nogah, I thought, was a fool for loving a man like Barak. But love has no logic right? Conclusion: I highly recommend this book. I am definitely going to be on a lookout for Eva Etzioni-Havely's other books- The Song of Hannah and The Garden of Ruth. Rating: 4.5 rounded to 5
CVassallo More than 1 year ago
I have read the third book of Eva Etzioni-Halevy " The Triumph of Deborah' and like her other two books" The Song of Hannah' and "The Garden of Ruth", I could not put the book down before reading to the last page. For these past few busy years I could not bring myself to finish one book, so reading The Song of Hannah, The Garden of Ruth and The Triumph of Deborah have really re-awakened my old love of reading. I have found the books so touching and have given me a new understanding of the lives of Biblical women. I have come to understand also the strife and pain of women having to be subjected to share their husband with another wife (as so vividly portrayed by Pninah and Hannah in the Song of Hannah). But we also see the intellectual, intelligent, strong and brave side of these women like Osnath in the Garden of Ruth" and the prophetess Deborah herself in "The Triumph of Deborah" In her remarkable talent Ms. Etzioni-Halevy has shed much light on these women who are portrayed as normal as one can ever be. Their everyday life is described to the minutest detail of how these women wore, ate, drank, cooked, thought, slept, struggled, felt and loved - so much so that these biblical figures come back to life and for the very first time women of ancient times are given a voice, an identity and a place in history along with their men,as they rightly deserve. The author brings us a new approach to the Bible - as seen through the Jewish matriarchs' eyes. And this is so much more interesting, more realistic and so much more captivating! I have enjoyed reading the book not only for the biblical story but for the wisdom and tenderness of only a woman that Eva Etzioni- Halevy has managed to portray to the reader. I am a Roman Catholic and I feel that Roman Catholics can adopt 'The Triumph of Deborah' (and the other two books ) of these Jewish biblical figures and make them their own as much as they belong to women of Jewish faith. The Bible especially the Old Testament is a book that binds together different faiths and books like "The Triumph of Deborah" can bind us all together even more. I will be looking forward to reading similiar books especially written by this great author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago