STORY: Can a Canaanite harlot who has made her livelihood by looking desirable to men make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel? Shockingly, the Bible’s answer is yes.
Pearl in the Sand tells Rahab’s untold story. Rahab lives in a wall; her house is built into the defensive walls of the City of Jericho. Other walls surround her as well—walls of fear, rejection, unworthiness.
A woman with a wrecked past; a man of success, of faith …of pride; a marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another’s worth and find healing in God.
REVIEW: I am a Christian and I own and read my Bible. The story of Rahab is not new to me. I’ve ‘listened’ sermons about it, yet until reading ‘Pearl in the Sand’ I never really ‘heard’ it.
Rahab is fifteen years old, living with her parents, two brothers and a sister-in-law in Jericho, Canaan. To aid her family’s survival, her father is forced to turn his beautiful and innocent girl into a prostitute. There are no choices left to either of them, and both will need to come to terms with the shame that will follow both for a long time.
Even though she struggles to accept the road she now travels, this young woman exhibits maturity, strength and intuitiveness, so it’s not a surprise that two years later, at seventeen, she becomes an inn owner. Her property has a ‘desired’ location and her clientele is as always chosen well and only by her.
The first time she hears about Hebrews and their God, she’s twenty-six and the story her lover relates to her makes no sense and she has a hard time believing that unsophisticated and unarmed people who have no home, can be so powerful as to part sea’s and destroy Sihon’s army. Yet the rumors kept growing to such a degree that the people of Jericho were gripped with fear, and in that fear their idolatry grew. Temple priests kept the fires burning and the stench of burned human flesh could be smelled a league away.
As a girl Rehab saw one such sacrifice of her beloved baby nephew, and from the moment they snatched him from her loving arms, she vowed never to step foot nor pray to those gods that would accept an innocent life as a payment for their favors.
One day as she’s entertaining Debir, her new lover who’s a high general in the army, she listens as he’s telling her of Hebrew’s One True God; a God with compassion for his people; a God who doesn’t require a statue built of him nor can you see him or touch him. One minute her heart longs for this God of compassion, and in the next her hopes are dashed as Debir tells her that this God condemns prostitutes by having them stoned to death! To finally encounter the Hebrew Lord of compassion only to realize that He is her enemy, was ironic. One fallen woman of Jericho longing for a Hebrew God! As always, she knew that she shouldn’t let herself believe or trust in no one but herself.
This is not so much a story of Joshua and the Israelites conquering Jericho, as it is a story of Rahab and her life in a land in which wickedness knew no bounds. It’s a story of a woman who must accept and forgive herself fully, while at the same time embracing the true God. As she proclaims ‘I believe!’ the reader can’t help but feel Rahab’s elation.
It’s also a story of forgiveness, acceptance, redemption and love. We get to see this woman fall in love with her true soul mate, Salmone. Their love has a few bumps in the road but once he submits to God, he understands this strong woman and has no choice but to love and respect her.
This is an amazing story and Tessa Afshar told it so beautifully that you won’t even think of it as a Bible Story. Not even close! But, this is also not your typical Romance either, despite being a love story. Love of God for his people, even for a Canaanite prostitute.
I appreciated Ms. Afshar taking the time to research the scripture as well as History. Without the extensive research and her fertile imagination we would never have ‘felt’ the story. It would have become just another Sermon. Instead we come away feeling blessed by the story of one woman’s quest for peace and love in her life.
She finds both and the road to it is long, at times painful and might have been doomed, but for the grace of God.
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* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*