In these two volumes of his trilogy, Marek Halter involves “passion”and biblical-era religion as he combines imagined history, archeologicalfindings, and the protagonists. They evoke the feminism of The Red Tentby Anita Diamant, written nearly ten years ago. Halter portrays Sarahas a modern woman, making choices in her life. He emphasizes the passionand fervor of Abraham, and more pertinently, the passion between himand Sarah — ”Her heart was hammering against her ribs, and her hands wereshaking” when they met. Abraham, commanding and fiery, is a wonderfulhero. Sarah’s youthful impetuousness, which determines much of her life,evolves into mystical wisdom. The intensity of ancient perceptions ofG‑d are juxtaposed with women’s roles throughout. Interestingly, bothSarah and Zipporah married outside their tribe.
Descriptions of daily life add value. As for the prose, thetranslator’s choices startle: a young person is in a “tetchy” mood, or a“motley crew” moves along a path. In what time frame do Halter’sreaders live?
The second volume is a biography of Zipporah, who was raised inMidian. Halter uses the idea that she was in fact a Cushite(Nubian/Sudanese), and supposes that she was adopted as a small girl byJethro, the sage and prince. Fate brings two foundlings — Moses andZipporah — into one tent, and ultimately into marriage. While Sarahquietly encourages Abraham, Zipporah is an active ally of Moses, firmlytelling him his duty toward Pharaoh’s Hebrew slaves. Both females makechoices. According to Halter, Sarah’s infertility is her choice;Zipporah chose not to marry Moses until some time after their first sonwas born. Miriam, Moses’ sister, is antagonistic to Zipporah, a blackperson. Zipporah witnesses the death of their small sons in the turmoilamong the rescued Hebrews prior to Moses’ final descent from themountain. The book’s final level of tension and rapid pace are stirring.