Baker Publishing Group | May 1, 2005 | Trade Paperback | ISBN 978-0-7642-2990-9
As King Hezekiah embraces God’s Law, he leads his country into renewed prosperity. But following the will of Yahweh is a perplexing process, requiring unpopular choices – for both his personal life and political career. Now his archenemy’s demands for tribute are forcing Hezekiah into a precarious situation.
Jerusha, a young Jewish woman far from home, has seen firsthand what the dreaded invaders are capable of doing. As the powerful Assyrian army sweeps through the northern provinces, leaving little but devastation in its wake, Jerusha longs to escape. Her desperate will to live could become a link to Jerusalem’s survival.
With Assyria on the march, moving closer to the heart of Judah, Hezekiah’s decision to follow the everlasting One is about to face the ultimate test.
King Hezekiah is the son of the now deceased King Ahaz who worshipped the idol Molech and offered his own sons as a sacrifice pushing them into his fiery mouth to their deaths. Thankfully, Hezekiah had his grandfather Zechariah who taught him that the One and only God was Yahweh. Yahweh means “the Lord”.
King Hezekiah ruled Judah from 716 to 687 BC and was only twenty-five-years-old when he became King. “After King Solomon’s death in 931 BC, the Promised Land split into two separate kingdoms. Israel, the larger nation to the north, set up its capital in Samaria and was no longer governed by a descendant of King David. In the southern nation of Judah, David’s royal line continued to rule from Jerusalem.”
As the book opens King Hezekiah had walked down the hill from his palace to the Valley of Hinnom, and followed the path he had taken the night he was torn from his bed as a child to become a sacrifice to Molech. It was hard for him to understand now how anyone could have worshipped the brass idol much less sacrifice their own child to it. That horrible night his brothers had been sacrificed instead of him. He remembered his brothers Eliab and Amariah as he watched the workers destroying it and remembered how his brothers had burned alive. Although now toppled over, King Hezekiah knew there were still people who would choose to ignore the truth about Yahweh and continue to make sacrifices to Molech, only in secret. He instructed Jonadab, his captain of the palace guards to warn his guards at the Valley Gate to watch the place after dark when people were most likely to sacrifice their children under the cover of darkness. He wanted the idol “…smashed into pieces, melted down and weapons forged from it – swords, spears, arrowheads, and shields – then fill his armory with them” as he knew someday he would once again have an army and wanted Jonadab to lead them. He promoted him to “General” Jonadab.
King Hezekiah’s intentions were to turn his people back to Yahweh and away from all other idols. He enlisted the help of his grandfather, Zechariah, to teach him how to pray, how to believe, how to love and how to trust totally in body, mind, and soul in Yahweh. He wanted the people of Judah to experience all Yahweh’s promises and commands.
His other intention was to stop paying exorbitant taxes to the Assyrians who were a ruthless and morbidly violent army of men. Under his father’s reign he had entered into an agreement of protection from the Assyrians but it was literally bankrupting Judah. Unsure of his decision to withhold the tribute to Assyria, he asked Zechariah if he was making the right decision for the right reasons. Zechariah told King Hezekiah that trusting God was never a mistake. God commands you not be afraid, so to be fearful is to doubt God, and that is a sin. Yahweh never promises that life will be without problems but you are to meditate and pray on what He has promised and to allow that to be your strength.
Jerusha, is a young Jewish woman who lives with her mother, Hodesh; father, Jerimoth; and younger sister, Maacah. They are a poor family living on a small farm. One horrible day the Assyrian’s storm through their community killing and maiming people in their wake. The evil Iddina grabbed Jerusha and spirited her away on his horse and she was terrified at having been taken captive by these barbaric people. Six days after the raid they reached their camp in the far north. Jerusha was pushed in front of all the other men by Iddina who was proudly displaying her as his “trophy”. These men seemed more animal than human and Jerusha was forced to become their prostitute. She was raped over and over by many men and forced to cook for them. She belonged to all of the men now. Everything in Jerusha’s new world was oppressive and evil. She watched as the men returned to camp with other captives whom they tortured. She listened to the cries of human pain for death was a sport for the Assyrian’s. It was a way of life for them and their god. Her life became an unrelenting grind of slavery, preparing meals, and being used, abused, and raped by Iddina and his fellow officers at night.
Now the Assyrian’s are on the march again and King Hezekiah is rallying to fortify the walls of his city and rerouting his water supply but knows the Assyrian’s NEVER lose. Will his faith in Yahweh save his nation? Will Jerusha ever escape or become one of the many slowly tortured until her death?
I couldn’t put this book down and read it in one sitting. I was completely entranced by this story and will be keeping it as part of my permanent collection. I’m really looking forward to reading Book #3 ‘The Strength of His Hand.’ Pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed.