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The Scarlet Cord Paperback – September 4, 2014
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
From the Author
She was a real person, and her bold faith echoes through the ages. However, "The Scarlet Cord" is a novel, a work of fiction, merely a guess at how Rahab's story might have unfolded.
From the Inside Flap
For forty years, the people of Jericho heard tales of how the slaves escaped from their Egyptian masters. Were the stories true or not?.
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Top customer reviews
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Rahab runs from her family, making her own way and eventually saves them all. The life of Rahab is at the very core of truth as how an imperfect person, once a harlot can inherit the Kingdom.
Havel and Faucheux detailed events of everyday life in Jericho brought this story to fruition for this reader. No detail was left unattended from the description of the clothing, foods, and living quarters making the historical correctness of the story significantly believable.
I highly recommend The Silver Cord to readers of Historical Biblical Fiction. You will not be disappointed in this touching and monumental story.
I feel bad giving this book 2 stars, because it's engagingly written. As a children's or young adult book, it reads well. If you just want a light, enjoyable read, this is a decent choice. Two things disappointed me to the point that I couldn't finish the book, though:
First, although the authors made it clear that it was intended as fiction, the historical setting was inaccurate enough that it became a distraction.
For example we don't know much about the religion of Jericho, but we do know that it was not highly developed, and appeared to be based on family and ancestor worship. Clay figurines were common religious objects, and skulls coated in plaster were buried under the floors of houses. In the 2000's BC the city did have one temple, but little or nothing is known about what god was worshiped there.
The book gave Jericho a much more developed religion, complete with THREE temples, devoted to each of the three gods prominently mentioned in the Old Testament (Baal, Asthoreth, and Molech). The city was very prosperous to support one temple, but certainly didn't have three.
It's also a misconception to portray these as three gods: "Baal" is a generic term (meaning "lord") referring to the god Hadad (as in Benhadad, the Syrian king); "Asherah" is a generic term for a goddess-consort; and "Molech" is actually an uncertain term but is probably not a god at all. "Molech" is most likely a type of child sacrifice, probably offered to Hadad/Baal. So to the best of our knowledge there should only have been one temple, devoted to Hadad, where people worshiped both Baal and his Asherah, sometimes by sacrificing children. The book's conception of Molech worship is associated with Carthage, at least 500 years later.
The general impression I'm left with is that various Bible verses, some of them dating hundreds of years later, along with some material from Josephus in the 1st Century CE, were taken uncritically and used uncritically to fill in any gaps in the narrative. Since I have an interest in both the Bible and the history of the period, I found it very distracting.
The second thing that bothered me was that the book read in some ways like most Christian fiction: it had a certain naive preachiness to it. It was better than average in this respect, so by itself it didn't stop me from reading, but it was noticeable. For example when Rahab hears about the Israelites, nearly the first thing she does is pray to the Israelite God to spare Jericho. The prayer was the usual one prayed in evangelical fiction by the protagonist that you know, in the end, is going to convert: "I don't know who you are or if you're listening to me, but if you're out there somewhere, please help me!" You'll also notice that she strikes her bargain with the Israelites immediately and without question. The book doesn't really lay a foundation for that.
Naturally, Rahab is just a little... different... from the rest of her family. She's estranged from their religion. She's just a little bit morally superior. She's just a little bit bothered by the things they take for granted. If you're familiar with the genre, you can smell from a mile away that she's going to convert by the end.
When the time comes, her entire family converts--instantly and effortlessly. Rahab's conversion is so complete that when Achan's family is killed (See Joshua 7) she immediately assumes that it must be just in some way that she can't necessarily understand. This was also jarring because it portrays Rahab as a modern woman in an ancient world: a modern person might question capital punishment, but an ancient person probably would not. The author didn't manage to construct a viewpoint for Rahab that would justify either her questioning or her acceptance.
(That's not the only instance where the characters clearly speak in modern voices. There are glimmers of feminism here and there which I'm heartily in favor of, but which seem more than a little anachronistic.)
I'm a bit sensitive to stories with a preaching/conversion subtext. When I was a kid I listened to "Unshackled" on the radio, and I read the "Elizabeth Gail" series by Hilda Stahl. This book isn't nearly as obvious about it as they were, but it left a flavor I don't care for. In the end I made it about 2/3rds of the way through the book before quitting.
If you aren't so picky about historical accuracy, and you don't mind a good conversion story, this might be a good book for you. It's got a nice flow and is an easy, breezy read.
Rahab, called by several discourteous terms in the account of Joshua’s capture of the city of Jericho. She is a sympathetic person, and perhaps her family and descendants embody acceptance and forgiveness, mercy and love in a way the pen strokes of God’s law do not.
Canaanites occupying the Promised Land were wary of the mysterious Hebrew tribes, escaped former slaves from Egypt, marching across the land, conquering mighty kingdoms in their way, worshiping an unseen and powerful force. Rumors were rampant, and when their path led through the mighty city of Jericho, only one family was destined for salvation.
I appreciated the effort these authors put into their historically accurate research. Even the food, types of clothing, daily life, was well done and woven skillfully into a narrative that fleshed out Rahab and her family in an engaging way. Although I have preferred to wish that Rahab had been branded a harlot because of her business, these authors gave me a new perspective to see why and how the professions were entangled. The possible personalities of Rahab’s family developed for this tale enhanced each aspect of life, from the earliest memories of sacrifice on many gruesome levels, to the escape into an unknown future, to the acceptance or denial of the gift of new opportunities, each family member represented a cross-section of personalities, and ultimately, of how we treat God, no matter how we believe.
Told from multiple viewpoints, that of Rahab and her future husband Salmon, The Scarlet Cord and a treasure and wonderful addition to the collection of biblical fiction.