Mesu Andrews. Miriam. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook, 2015. See here to buy the book.
Miriam is the second book of Mesu Andrews' "Treasures of the Nile" series, which is about Moses. The first book of the series was The Pharaoh's Daughter, and it was about Moses in his infancy and young adulthood. One can probably read and understand Miriam without having read The Pharaoh's Daughter. Still, Miriam does refer to characters and events of the preceding book.
focuses on Moses' sister, Miriam. It goes up to the time immediately
after the crossing of the Red Sea. Miriam is rather elderly in this
book. The Hebrews are still in Egypt, and Miriam is a prophetess to the
Israelites and to the Egyptians. She receives dreams from the Hebrew
God, El Shaddai, and she shares those dreams with others. She is
respected in Egypt. Her nephew, Eleazar, a son of her brother Aaron,
works in the court of Egypt. He is a guide to Prince Ram, one of the
sons of Pharaoh Ramesses.
I cannot say that I was particularly
drawn to the characters. Plus, this was a book that I had to read
carefully, otherwise I would miss what was going on.
Despite all of that, I liked this book. I am definitely open to reading other books by Mesu Andrews in the future.
Why? Because I have never quite seen the Exodus story told in this way.
one, Andrews presents flawed characters. Aaron is rather shallow,
selfish, and boorish, and his wife is just like him. Aaron thinks that
Moses has become too hungry for power and notoriety. Aaron is also
dismissive of his son Eleazar, and the two of them do not get along with
Miriam is insecure after Moses' return to Egypt.
The good old El Shaddai who long comforted her in her spinsterhood is no
longer communicating with her, at least to the same extent. God now
goes by a new name, "Yahweh," and he speaks clearly to Moses. Miriam
feels abandoned by God, but she learns to see God's care for her in new
Eleazar does not know what to make of the God of Israel. He
is somewhat gratified that this God is knocking the Egyptian royals off
their high horse, while fearing that this God will punish him for his
lack of piety. But he notices the toll that God's plagues have taken on
people. He questions whether this God is a God of compassion, one who
deserves worship. Eleazar also struggles socially, in that he does not
always know what to say to people. This is particularly the case with
Taliah, who becomes his wife. Eleazar is worldly-wise in that he knows
and fears what the Egyptians can do. He realizes that he has a higher
status and more freedom than other Israelites, yet sometimes he feels
even more enslaved than the others.
Then there is Moses, who
does not even want to be there. Moses struggles at times with God's
activity, especially since the first three plagues not only harmed the
Egyptians, but the Israelites as well. His own elderly parents died
because they were weakened from one of the plagues. Because the Nile
was blood, the water was heavily rationed, and that affected Moses'
Many tellings of the Exodus depict the heroes as
somewhat flawed, but Mesu Andrews takes this to a new level. In this
book, all sorts of interests struggle to adjust to new realities, amidst
their human foibles.
highlights details that are often absent from other Moses stories.
There are the many Egyptians who honor Moses because they are seeing the
power of his God. There is the question of their theological views: do
they now see Moses' God as the only one, or as one of many? This
question would loom large when the plague of the firstborn was about to
take place, and Egyptians were wrestling with whether they should join
the community of Israel through circumcision. The book also depicts the
Pharaoh as inconsistent for allowing the Nubians to go off and worship
their god, but not the Israelites.
This book is not The Ten Commandments. It is not The Prince of Egypt.
It is different. It wrestles with spiritual themes that many other
retellings of the Exodus story do not address. If you are looking for
that, especially during this Passover season, then this book is for
I received a complimentary Advance
Reading Copy for review purposes from the publisher through Blogging for
Books, in exchange for an honest review.