Monday, March 2, 2015

"God and Kings" by Lynn Austin

Set during the late reign of King Ahaz to the early reign of King Hezekiah, this book packs a historical punch.  Prophets Isaiah, Zechariah, and Micah take to the scene, as well.  Based off of biblical accounts, this book ties together various stories and helps make sense of political issues in ancient Israel.  While the books of the Bible have exciting stories, sometimes it can be hard to connect the dots of separate books.  Austin weaves together stories from the books of kings and the prophetic books.  For instance, it totally went over my head that prophet Zechariah's daughter was married to King Ahaz.  What may seem like a random prophecy in the Bible is brought into plain historical context many times.  Additionally, while idolatry can seem awful enough on paper, it comes to like in this story.  Readers wrench in emotional pain as they stand by prince Hezekiah watching his heather father sacrifice sons to pagan gods.  As prophets walk thru the Temple, we feel their remorse and repulsion to see pagan altars encroaching on holy territory.  The lives of women are also dramatized, which makes the reader ponder the real historical accounts.  Sure, the Bible may leave certain details out, but what if the queen was really struggling with a specific internal dilemma?  Beyond being an obviously religious book, I enjoyed how Austin put in real doubts.  A royal tutor is an atheist, a foreign envoy thinks he is his own god, a Jewish priest fakes devotion to YHWH, etc.  This book does not sugarcoat history but rather puts it in light.  I look forward to reading the next book in Austin's series.

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