Documentarian Mokin draws on the Book of Exodus in a novel about a man who learns to balance his love for a woman with his love for his adopted nation and their God.
The life of a young scribe—referred to only as the Egyptian—is irrevocably changed the instant he sees a Habiru woman on the banks of the river. Miryam is sister to Aharon and the prophet Mosheh, who will lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt. When Egypt is struck down, the scribe pursues Miryam, throwing in his lot with the budding nation of Israel. As Israel defies God time and time again, the Egyptian’s commitment to wandering with these troubled people wavers; though he does not question his devotion to Miryam, he questions his place among his adopted nation. Through the eyes of this outsider, readers see the young Israel: rebellious, malcontent and constantly challenging their jealous God. That lens allows Mokin to muse on questions modern readers may have about the actions of God in the Book of Exodus and the harsh punishments he doles out to his chosen people. Though Mokin bends historical details to service the narrative, his clear style and beautifully conceived rendition of the characters—particularly Miryam and Aharon—are sure to draw readers into the world. The book shifts between third-person omniscient narration, which delivers insight into the actions of the Israelites and their prophet, and the journal kept by the Egyptian scribe, allowing Mokin to paint a fuller picture of events while giving readers a character in whom they can invest. This is the Egyptian’s tale, but he is not its protagonist; the conceit fits well with this character’s occupation as a scribe. While not all readers will be drawn in, any with an interest in biblical studies or the history of Egypt, the Middle East and the children of Israel will find much to absorb.
A tale of the Exodus that brings Israel’s prophet and people to life.