I received a free ecopy of this book from BookLookBloggers in exchange for an honest review. Carol Cook’s exploration of women in the Bible in preparation for a ladies’ study at her church led her to find 418 women named in the Bible although many were perhaps unfamiliar or had very little said about them. She decided to write first about those who are generally considered to be scandalous and she researched them, dressed as them, and gradually found them telling her their own stories and so she wrote their stories in the first person.
This book contains eight of these stories beginning with Bathsheba and ending with Eve, so you know they aren’t in chronological order. Cook is able to surround the bare bones of the written word of the Bible with the culture of the time and create the circumstances of how these women tried to live their lives according to God’s laws and found forgiveness when they tried to fulfill His promises by taking things into their own hands.
I found the story of Bathsheba particularly touching as Cook portrays a woman who is simply performing her ritual ablutions on her rooftop and inadvertently attracts the attention of the king. When she is summoned to the palace, she is fearful that it is bad news about her husband, Uriah, or her father, both of whom serve the king at the front. She was deeply in love with her husband but no-one refuses the king and she was trapped. Only when her husband had been killed, and she had taken up a privileged life at the palace and learned to love David, did she realize the price they would both pay for the king’s lust: that their first child would die. Cook takes the story beyond this to the two growing old together, the threat to her son, Solomon, by a son by one of David’s other wives who stages a coup, and how by trusting God’s promises, they saw God’s way come to pass.
Cook takes us through the journey of Sara and Abram to Egypt and how despite following God’s instructions, Abram tried to protect his wife on his own instead of trusting that God would fulfill His plans on His own. Then, we follow their lives through their name changes, the birth of a son by Hagar, the ensuing jealousy, and the eventual birth of a son, Isaac, by Sarah in her old age.
The story of Jacob’s wives Leah and Rachel, and the trickery of Laban in forcing Jacob to have Leah before granting him Rachel after he served Laban for seven years, and the deceitful way in which Laban dealt with Jacob in all his dealings, was a powerful message about harbouring bitterness rather than forgiveness and a rather “what goes ’round comes ’round” acceptance by Jacob of his circumstances.
Each of the stories holds surprises and the important truth that each of us is in need of forgiveness and that God’s graciousness and faithfulness are promises that can be relied upon. I finished the stories feeling that none of these women were actually scandalous, but ordinary people who were trying to please the Lord, and sometimes lost patience while waiting for the promises to be fulfilled. Sound familiar? It sure did to me. This was a thoroughly engaging book and I can’t wait to read the volume with the next eight women. * * * *