MERARI: The Woman Who Challenged Queen Jezebel and the Pagan Gods by Gloria Howe Bremkamp

MERARI: The Woman Who Challenged Queen Jezebel and the Pagan Gods

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

An inspirational Bible-based tale centered on what is referred to in 2 Kings 4:9 (New English Version) as the ""great lady"" who provided a permanent shelter in her home for the prophet Elisha. Here the Shunammite woman, Merari, whose son the prophet restored to life and who petitioned the king for return of her family lands on his advice, is given a larger role in events. The story opens with the coronation of Joram, King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel Joram is the son of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, worshipper of Baal (her corpse will be eaten by dogs). Merari, whose family worships the True God, is married to Royal Overseer Nahum, a good man who married her after he saw her being forced against her will by then-prince Joram. Joram remembers Merari when he makes the decision to outlaw child sacrifice and destroy the altar of Baal: now would Merari hate him less? The prophet Elisha visits Merari; predicts the birth of son Ozem to the barren woman; later resurrects the child from death; and foretells droughts, famines and other miseries to come. Elisha here has been considerably pastel-ed from his fiery original appearances. (For example, in Kings, small boys jeer at him, he curses them, and ""two she. bears came out of the wood and mauled 42 of them."" Elisha explains here that the boys were really young men, that they jeered God, and as for the bears: ""No one saw them, including me, until it was too late."" Hmmm.) There's constant warfare; Joram kills Nahum, and Merari thinks of the bright idea of trading grain for Elisha's life. At the close: Elisha has Jehu anointed as the new King of Israel, and Jehu returns to Merari her family lands. As is usual in this type of inspirational Bible treatment, the rough places have been made very smooth, indeed (but with some necessary simplifications of the Kings chronologies), and the emphasis on story rather than sentiment makes for a reliable offering for a circumscribed readership.

Pub Date: March 19th, 1986
Publisher: Harper & Row