The Crimson Cord

The Crimson CordThe Crimson Cord by Jill Eileen Smith
Series: Daughter's of the Promise Land
Genres: Biblical Fiction
Published by Revell on February 17, 2015
Pages: 368

 

Most of us will know the story of Rahab – how her decision to shelter and help the Israelites spies in their quest to destroy Jericho not only saved her and her family’s life, but also meant she is now considered a heroine of the Christian faith. But equally, there is so much we don’t know about her story. She was a prostitute, but what led her to such a profession? What inspired her to help the Israelite spies and what happened to her after those walls fell down around her home? Jill Eileen Smith seeks to answer these questions in fiction – presenting a story of Rahab that, although it isn’t entirely based on Biblical text, could have possibly happened.

One thing I really admired about this approach to Rahab’s story was how other Scriptural truth was incorporated into the retelling.

One thing I really admired about this approach to Rahab’s story was how other Scriptural truth was incorporated into the retelling. For example, the premise of one of Jesus’ parables – the unforgiving debtor – is used in the plot and creates the downward spiral of Rahab’s livelihood, ultimately leading her into prostitution. I appreciated this insight by the author, choosing to exemplify a parable of Jesus and show its morals outworked in an actual, ‘real-life’ situation. It brings that story to life in a way that might otherwise be overlooked in a fictionalised story of Jesus’ life – it’s fitting that it finds life here.

In terms of the actual story itself, the plot moved at such a measured, gradual pace that I felt myself coming out of the story.

In terms of the actual story itself, the plot moved at such a measured, gradual pace that I felt myself coming out of the story. Perhaps it was because I already knew the story’s outcome, but I found myself eager to reach the time of the Israelite invasion, then for the marriage of Rahab (who then gives birth to Boaz, the next in line on the lineage of Jesus Christ). That said, I did like the insight into the Israelite camp – a glimpse into their life as God’s people, determined to live completely righteous and holy. The character of Salmon, Rahab’s new husband both in the story and in the Bible, served as a great representation of the Israelite camp’s mind-set. As the chosen people they still had questions about their law and I am certain the real-life Israelites were the same. How can they truly please their God? How did He find Rahab to be righteous yet execute judgement on others who also sinned? The author doesn’t attempt to answer these questions, for they had not yet received the Good News of Jesus and the miracle of faith – but as a Christian I found myself responding to these questions in accordance to my faith. The relief and joy that our life of grace in the Lord brings was made all the clearer for me through witnessing all of Israel’s attempts at holiness, even as the grace of God was still very apparent through Rahab’s incredible story of survival.

The relief and joy that our life of grace in the Lord brings was made all the clearer for me through witnessing all of Israel’s attempts at holiness.

I am fairly new to this genre, but this book reminds me of my long-ago declaration to myself: I must read more Biblical fiction. Jill Eileen Smith has taken creative licence with Rahab’s story (as she must, for so little is known about her), but she’s done so in a way that is credible and brings some of the most important aspects of our faith – grace, forgiveness, redemption – to the fore.

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