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Not an actual Bible story...
on December 12, 2013
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. (one of the Most Innovative and Most Influential Churches in America by Outreach Magazine in 2008.) Batterson is also an author and has written several books.
The tale of Honi the Circle Drawer, is about a first-century man who lived during a great drought in Jewish history. Honi was more of an "activist" than he was a "miracle worker" in that he drew a circle in the dust, stood inside it, and informed God that he would not move until it rained. (thus putting God to the test).
Tradition says that when it started to rain, Honi told God that he was not satisfied and expected more. Through the "tale" Honi proceeds to go back and forth with his prayer until the rain is "to his liking." (Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 23a).
Tradition also says that Honi was excommunicated for his actions - because the Rabbi's believed that his "ordering of God" and his "stunt" was dishonorable to God. There are others who believe that God and Honi had a "special relationship" and that therefore Honi was "allowed" to be so brazen with his creator.
Either way, this is not a "biblical story" more so than it is Jewish folklore. I don't know how we could "prove" this incident took place, it more than likely did - but I don't know how I feel about this being the subject of a kids book.
I know Mark wrote a book about this same subject for adults - and I think adults can better process this story. And it is a wonderful example of the power of prayer. But I think if kids see the story and the pictures they might assume it's a story from the Bible.
The story is wonderful and the pictures are beautiful - I would certainly recommend this book for a Jewish home - or for kids who can understand that this is not an actual bible story.
Thank you to Zondervan for an advanced copy of this book to review.