The saying "better late than never" truly applies to me. After a lengthy career in political sociology, I burst out in a totally different direction and reincarnated myself as a biblical novelist. Why?
It so happened that some years ago, after spending much my life not connected to the Jewish traditions of my childhood, I began reading the Hebrew Bible. I was entranced by it! What fascinated me were its dramatic and traumatic stories about people who lived thousands of years ago, but who are so strikingly similar to us in their hopes, passions and anxieties. I began to identify in particular with the women, whose lives I could visualize as if they were my own.
What I also found wonderful about these women is that they lived in a male-dominated society, in which they were downtrodden in both family and society. Yet they were strong women, who did not sit around to bemoan their fate, but took destiny into their own hands and achieved what they wanted in their lives.
Also riveting in the biblical stories is the "sexual politics" to which they attest. It turns out that in biblical times, no less than ours, sex was closely interlinked with wealth, power, and power struggles.
My novel The Song of Hannah is based on the story in which the noble and apparently rich Elkanah could afford two wives, Pninah and Hannah. This resulted in clashes between them that were so loud and clear you could hear them like thunder cracking up in the sky. The dramatic setting is in the Bible, and I further developed it in my novel.
The Triumph of Deborah has its foundation in the story where the leader Deborah sent the warrior Barak into battle. In response, he demanded that she accompany him to the battlefield, and she went with him to his hometown as well. Yet she was a wife and a mother, and there is nothing to indicate that her husband accompanied her. I asked myself what would her husband say if his wife went off to distant parts with another man, leaving him to do the babysitting? The warrior was powerful enough to impose this demand—which carries a clear sexual innuendo—on the female leader, despite the husband's probable objections. This too, served as a most dramatic starting point for my novel.
The women of the Bible are described not merely as sex objects, but as sexual persons, who often initiated sex. As they lacked leverage, at times they used sex to achieve their lives' goals.
The Garden of Ruth follows the biblical story in which Ruth the Moabite, a destitute young widow, seduced wealthy landowner Boaz in the fields at night, so as to induce him into marriage with her. The nucleus is in the Bible and all I had to do is to further flesh out the intriguing tale.
I decided to turn the spotlight on these amazing women, and amplify their voices, so that they could be heard loud and clear across the generations. I wrote their stories in a manner that is faithful to the Scripture, but makes for light, entertaining reading and can be enjoyed no less by people who have never held a Bible in their hands.
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Causes Eva Etzioni-Halevy Supports
Charities in Israel