Connilyn Cossette. Wings of the Wind. Bethany House, 2017. See here to buy the book.
Wings of the Wind is the third book of Connilyn Cossette’s
“Out from Egypt” series. The series is about the Exodus and Israel’s
time in the wilderness.
Wings of the Wind is set after the failed rebellion of
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram against Moses. This book covers the incident
in Numbers 21 in which God sends fiery serpents against the complaining
Israelites, and the only way that they can be cured of snakebite is to
look at a brass serpent. It goes through the Canaanite prostitute Rahab
concealing the Israelite spies in the Book of Joshua, as well as the
battle of Jericho.
Alanah is a Canaanite woman. She dresses as a man and goes to the
battlefield to avenge her father and brothers, who were killed in battle
against the Israelites. She is unconscious on the battlefield, and an
Israelite, Tobiah, feels compassion for her and takes her to the
Israelite camp. There, she is nursed by Shira. A la Deuteronomy
21:10-14, Tobiah wants to marry Alanah, and she undergoes the ritual
prescribed under that law.
Alanah is ambivalent about marrying Tobiah and dwelling with the
Israelite people. On the one hand, she resents that the Israelites are
trying to conquer her land. She also has to deal with culture shock,
since the Israelites do things differently from the Canaanites (e.g., in
Israel, one can have a relationship with God without an idol or
sacrifice). On the other hand, she thinks that Israelite society under
the Torah is more compassionate, just, and humane than Canaanite
society, and that the God of Israel seems more real than the mythical
gods of Canaan. She develops relationships with Israelites in the
camps, some of whom were foreigners who had joined the Israelite
community. Israel is not a complete Shangri la for her, however, for
she has to deal with the bigotry and hostility of Tobiah’s twin sister,
The book picks up speed after Alanah discovers something that can
negatively affect some of her relationships with Israelites. In the
course of the story, Cossette provides an explanation for why Rahab was
so willing to help the Israelite spies.
My reactions to this book are mostly ambivalent.
The book, of course, portrays the Israelites as good (or Israelite
society as good) and the Canaanites as bad. It is an evangelical
Christian book, after all! And that is how the Israelite Conquest is
justified in this book: it is God’s judgment on the sinful Canaanites,
who had years to repent or to leave Canaan but failed to take advantage
of the opportunity. Occasionally, we get some nuance. Although the
book tries to argue that the Canaanites had time to leave Canaan and
that it was primarily a few sinful die-hards who stayed behind, some of
the Canaanites who are still in Canaan are not bad people: some are
victims of the unjust system or life’s circumstances, and some are old.
The book portrays Canaanite society as rife with prostitution (cultic
and otherwise), as violent and bloodthirsty, and as committed to child
sacrifice. On one occasion, Alanah reflects that Canaanites ditch their
elderly parents, whereas the Israelites are commanded to honor their
father and mother. Cossette may be correct that there was cultic
prostitution and child sacrifice in Canaan, but there are biblical
scholars who have questioned the extent of those things in Canaan.
While Cossette depicts Canaanites as unfaithful to their family, one
should remember that they performed rituals to support their dead
ancestors: can such people be categorized as unfaithful? And, while
Cossette depicts the Torah as compassionate, just, and humane, there are
people who would question that, seeing the Torah as patriarchal,
brutal, and genocidal.
This is not to suggest that there is absolutely nothing to Cossette’s
narrative. There are just and compassionate elements in the Torah, and
one can make a case that Canaanite society had significant flaws. One
can also read this book and appreciate the homiletical lesson that God
gives us laws to restrain our base impulses and to move us in the
direction of behaving more righteously (and, yes, grace is a significant
factor in this book, too). Still, in reading this book, one should
remember that there are additional nuances.
A point that Cossette tries to make is that the Canaanites had a
genuine opportunity to repent. They knew about God’s destruction of
Sodom and Gomorrah. They were aware of the Exodus and Israelites’
victories against overwhelming odds up to that point. Cossette even
speculates in the appendix that God may have sent a prophet to Canaan to
warn them to repent of their sinful behavior. Perhaps she would have
done well to have mentioned Melchizedek, who was a priest-king in Salem
during the time of Abraham and worshiped the Most High God. He may have
been a light to the Canaanites! While she wants to portray the
Canaanites as having the truth and rejecting it, as that would justify
the Conquest (according to her), she also portrays them as having a
distorted understanding of what was going on: they see Moses as a
sorcerer, and Joshua as a descendant of Baal! Is Cossette’s point that
they were suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18)?
As far as the story itself is concerned, it was pretty good. I think
Cossette tried to create a sense of pathos, but she was not overly
effective. Israelites in the story were trying to move on after the
people in their families had been killed by God in Korah’s rebellion,
but they usually dismissed their concerns and justified God with the
usual apologetic answers. In addition, Alanah was won to the truth too
quickly and too easily. It looked rather facile. There also seemed to
be more telling than showing in the story. Some of the scenes (i.e.,
the raging river scene) could have been more vivid.
This book is too good to get a three, but it falls short of a five. I’ll give it a four!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest!
Deeper Waters Podcast 10/21/2017: John Walton
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