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(Review) Keepers of the Covenant, The Restoration Chronicles Book Two by Lynn Austin

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Publisher: Bethany House Publishers, a Division of Baker Publishing, October 7, 2014.
Genre: Historical fiction, Old Testament.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 480.
Rating: 5 Stars.
Source: Free copy from Bethany House in exchange for a review. All reviews expressed are from my own opinion.

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To read my review of the first book in the series, Return to Me.

Keepers of the Covenant, is a Biblical historical fiction story from the Old Testament books of Esther and Ezra.
In the opening pages of Keepers of the Covenant, a decree by King Xerxes, and planned and promoted by Haman, state that all Jews will be killed on the 13th day of the 12th month. Xerxes is king of the Persian Empire. Haman is Xerxes second in command.
The first group of Jews left Persia and returned to Judah, and they worked to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. The prophets leading them were Haggai and Zechariah. A second group will be led by Ezra. Later, a third and last group will return led by Nehemiah.
Keepers of the Covenant is the story of the second group, still living in Persia, but will later leave and return to the Promised Land. It is also the story of the first group of Jews living in Judah.
The time period begins in 473 BC.
Ezra is a young unmarried man studying the Torah. He is serious and studious. His brother is Jude. Jude is a married man. His wife is Devorah and they are expecting a baby.
When the decree for all Jews to die is heard, the Jews living in Babylon and surrounding areas are shocked and fearful. Their first response is to pray, but they are planning to defend their families.
In Judah, the Edomites are happy the Jews are to be killed in all of the Persian Empire. They want "their" land back. The men make plans to kill, steal, and plunder the Jews.
Two young Edomite girls live in Bethlehem. Their father is an abusive man. He is eager to kill and destroy the Jews. The girls are named Sayfah and Amina. Amina is the youngest at age eight. She has been crippled since birth. When she hears the men speaking in angry voices about their plans, she thinks of her friend, a kind Jewish woman named Hodaya.

My Thoughts:
When the story began I was not sure if I'd love it. In the beginning I had a difficult time becoming invested in the story. In the fourth chapter I was introduced to Sayfah and Amina, and they became endearing to me. I feel it is their stories that swept me away and changed my feelings. Sayfah and Amina gave an added dimension, they were not Jewish, they were girls, and Amina had a crippled foot. They were considered the "least of these." Amina had a character of humility, gentleness, and kindness; and these qualities shined bright like the sun. Their relationship and choices reminds me of the Gospel message. I'm pleased Keepers of the Covenant includes this important aspect and symbolism through the girls stories.
I believe the Old Testament history of the return to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon, is not as well-known as other stories from the Old Testament. I often hear the stories of Genesis, the life of Moses and the Exodus, the books of Psalms and Proverbs, but the history of the Jewish people from the books of the major and minor prophets are often pushed aside.
Keepers of the Covenant, even though it is historical fiction, encourages deeper study of this time period, and reminds me of God's continuing work in and through His people.   


Joyful said…
I so enjoyed Return to Me and I know I will enjoy this one as well. Can't wait to get my hands on it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.