Have you ever thought about what life was like during the Old Testament times? Peggy Consolver – Author did and what come of that is quite an amazing, engaging, and interesting novel: Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer.
Mrs. Consolver began writing the story of a young Gibeonite boy during Old Testament times but in 2010, she was struggling to get the background right – the setting, the geography, the day-to-day details that make a story so engaging that you just can’t let go of it. She was able to take a tour of Israel, go to Caesarea, Megiddo, the Jezreel Valle, Galilee, Jericho, and more. Attending some of the archaeological digs in the area really brought to life the setting in which she was writing the story. And from there, well, we are definitely the beneficiaries of the beautiful, insightful writing that came of that experience. Her purpose is to bring every reader closer to God, to HIStory.
Shepher, Potter, Spy, and the Star Namer has its primary focus on the family of a young Gibeonite boy. The setting is the Jezreel Valley – close to Jerusalem, Jerico, and the Jordan River. The time period is the final two years of the Israelites wandering in the desert before entering Canaan.
The Gibeonite family are shepherds and potters, working hard daily to earn their living and to live in the mountainous areas of their country. Keshub, 13 years old, begins the book as the shepherd for his family, but their lives begin to change when the king of Amorites begins his awful reign and his unloved son runs away for fear of his own life. Keshub’s family believes in the Star-Namer, one who knows all, created all, and cares for everyone, wanting them to do right.
A caravan brings news of the approaching Hebrews and their land is filled with terror. Are the Hebrews really an overwhelming invader who will kill and destroy or is the king of the Amorites who they should worry about? What will happen to the family and the land? After the fall of Jericho, what is there to believe? How could a city that was so protected just fall?
What I found so fascinating about this story is the lives brought to life in the pages of the story. This is a fictional book but it is historical fiction, based strongly on the lives of the Gibeonite people and the Hebrews. Many of the events of the story come from the Old Testament, specifically as documented in Joshua and Exodus.
Have you ever wondered just what it was like for the Hebrews, as they left behind Egypt and approached Canaan for the second time, after most of those who came out of Egypt had died? Have you ever thought about the amazing sight of what the fall of Jericho would have looked like? What about the crossing of the Jordan river on dry land? Have you ever thought about how the lives of the people were, their daily lives, their earning livings? All this and more are brought to life through the imagination of Mrs. Consolver.
Just some insight into her creative thought processes – I have always thought that it must have been strange to see all of the changes and deaths the Hebrew people experienced. I never personalized it, though. Mrs. Consolver does that extremely well and I felt the fear, the anguish, the pain of the families as they waited for people to die. They knew the deaths of everyone over a certain age would have to die before they could enter Canaan and that must have been an excruciating wait when you knew one of your family members was in that catergory. This is just one of the experiences that was brought to stark life, so that I could feel the anguish, in the story.
A Note on the Book:
Mrs. Consolver has the reader in the Gibeonite setting for most of the book but there are many scenes that take place in the Hebrew camp, as well. This movement of the setting really enhances the book, as it brings the eventual meeting of the two groups to a head (remember when the Gibeonites approached the Hebrews and made a treaty with them under false pretenses?). This did take a bit of thinking to jump back and forth but I feel like it did a great job of bringing the reader right into the story and setting the stage for the final portions of the book.
Mrs. Consolver has an interesting website that really enhances the experience of Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer. There are many research links and videos that help you delve deeper into the setting and story line. From looking at animals encountered in the story to links showing how to make knots like the boys did, from learning about Mount Hermon to bow making and learning about fires and insects – the research links are fascinating. They can really strengthen the connections to the story and, more importantly, to the Bible and the events told there. There is also a study guide available to help the readers dig even deeper into HIStory and all that God shows us through the Bible. The study guide is available for purchase and you can get a sample of it from Mrs. Consolver’s website.
You can find the author on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peggy.consolver
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