Title: Judah’s Wife
Author: Angela Hunt
Series: The Silent Years, book 2
Major Themes: Antiochus Epiphanes, Hannukah, Jewish History, Maccabees
Synopsis: Has Leah escaped from an abusive father only to find herself trapped with an uncaring husband?
This is the first time I have ever come across a book about the Maccabees. I have read their story in the Apocrypha, a collection of books that some people consider to be part of the Bible and others do not; our family has read through them a couple of times, more as history than as Scripture. There are some fascinating stories in the Apocrypha, and the story of Judas Maccabeus and his brothers is one of them. I was quite interested to read Judah’s Wife when I came across it, and was not disappointed. Angela Hunt has done a masterful job of bringing to life a little-known part of Jewish history. If you have ever wondered where the feast of Hannukah originated, you may be interested in reading this story.
Leah had never known anything of love from her father. Her mother shielded her from her father’s violence, taking the blows on herself, and Leah looked down on her for being so weak as to not stand up to him. Then, one day as she walked through Jerusalem with a friend, some ruffians attacked Leah. Several young men came to her rescue; one of them was Judas Maccabeus—and soon, he asked Leah’s father for her hand. The next thing Leah knew, she was married to him and on her way out of Jerusalem with his family to live in a village far from the corrupt Hellenes, Jews who adopted Greek ways of life.
The Maccabeus family, though they moved away from Jerusalem, could not ignore the destruction of the Jewish way of life. Devout Levites, they knew they had to restore true worship to Israel. For many years, they fought to drive the Greeks out of their holy city and purify and rebuild the temple. This book recounts their struggles and battles. The author has pretty much taken the account from the books of Maccabees, in the Apocrypha, and fleshed them out to make a readable story. The wives of the five Maccabeus brothers are not mentioned in the old account, so she has invented them for the story, but the main events are true.
The main theme of this story, other than the historical aspect, which was what I enjoyed most, was Leah’s attitude towards men. Having grown up with an abusive father, she believed that men were all that way, that a woman could not trust a man. Would she ever learn to trust and really love Judah? And would she ever stop trying to change him from what God had called him to be? I found myself frustrated with her a number of times.
This is a well-written book, and I really enjoyed it. I am glad that someone has made the story of the Maccabees accessible to the modern reader. If I had the book in print, so that I could censor a few paragraphs which talk about marital intimacy, I would allow my children to read this book for its historical value.
I received a free ecopy of this book from NetGalley, and chose to write a review.
WARNING: Chapter 8 has a paragraph, toward the end, about the wedding night, and at the end of chapter 10 there is another paragraph of the same nature. In chapter 13 there is one sentence, and several paragraphs in chapter 20. Chapter 20 nearly quotes from the Apocrypha to tell the story of a woman whose seven sons were all tortured and killed before her eyes because they would not violate their consciences; it’s pretty gruesome. In chapter 21 three emissaries from the governor, Antiochus Epiphanes, are killed because they are demanding the Jews sacrifice to idols. Chapter 65 has a detailed account of Judah’s death.