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Book Recommendation: The Secret Book of Kings / Yochi Brandes

December 7, 2017

 

From time to time I receive emails from readers who ask me for recommendations about other Israeli writers.

There are a number of Israeli writers that I appreciate, though, unfortunately, not all of them have been translated into English or are available on Amazon.com

 

In this post, I would like to recommend an Israeli writer whom I adore. I was very happy to discover that one of her books has already been translated into English and is available on Amazon.com

The author’s name is Yochi Brandes, and the name of the book that can be obtained on Amazon is The Secret Book of Kings, which I certainly define as one of the best books I have read.

 

It is important to emphasize that this is a biblical novel and, therefore, I’m not sure that it suits everyone, but those who are interested in the Old Testament will discover a surprising novel. I'll try to explain myself without giving away spoilers. The historical part of the Bible (Samuel 1 and 2, and Kings 1 and 2) were written by writers who sat in the kingdom of Judah, and for those who are not familiar with Israel's ancient history, the ancient kingdom of the Jews was actually composed of two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Judah, and the Kingdom of Israel. The Kingdom of Judah (its capital, Jerusalem) was a small and weak kingdom, while the Kingdom of Israel was a large and powerful kingdom. The first king of the Jews was Saul, who was from the tribe of Binyamin, which is one of the tribes of "Israel." The second Jewish king was David (from the Judea tribe) and he was succeeded by his son, Shlomo (Solomon). After Solomon's death, the kingdom, which was never really united, split into two kingdoms which, at times, were rivals. The kingdom of Israel was completely destroyed in the eighth century BCE by the Assyrian king, and, in fact, only the kingdom of Judah survived. All the Jews in the world today are, in fact, descendants of the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Levi, who served as priests in the ancient temple in Jerusalem (and possibly of the refugees of the Kingdom of Israel who fled to the Kingdom of Judea). This is the source of our name: Jews – we are all from Judah. An interesting anecdote is that, in 1948, on the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel, there was a dilemma over whether to call the new state the State of Israel, or the State of Judea. On behalf of unity, the State of Israel was decided upon.

 

I will now return to the books of the prophets that describe the historical chapter of the biblical period: the books that were preserved are the books which were written by writers who sat in the Kingdom of Judah for the simple reason that the kingdom of Israel was destroyed, and its authors exiled or killed. I learned that the kingdom of Judah was always stronger in its faith, and closer to God, while the sins and evil deeds of the kings of Israel were emphasized by the authors of the Bible.

I attended a lecture by Yochi Brandes in which she explained that her goal in the book was to tell the story from the losers' side - the story we did not ever hear. It should be noted that her book is prose, but it is based on research, so it is not entirely based on imagination - which only makes the story more interesting, in my opinion.

 

More than that, I will not tell, so that you can enjoy the wonderful story. It is clear to me that the experience of reading in Hebrew is greater, both because it is the language of the Bible, and because it is the language of the author; but anyone who loves history and Bible stories is guaranteed perfect pleasure.

 

Pleasant reading,

Michal

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