Tessa Afshar File:
Reviewed by Jennifer Bogart
Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar
"Pearl in the Sand is a lovely story, vividly written, and is sure to please devotees of biblical fiction."
It is hard not to be captivated by the story of Rahab once one realizes that her past is scandalous at best, yet her lineage brought us noble men such as Boaz, David, and eventually led to the birth of Christ! Tessa Afshar had little biblical text to work from in the case of Rahab (as she explains in her opening author’s notes) but what a splendid job she does recreating the life of this woman from Jericho and her stunning faith.
Filled with rich historical detail, Pearl in the Sand realistically portrays the hope, expectations, and daily life of the Israelites as they begin to conquer the land promised to their forefathers. Filled with sand, sacrifice, and the leadership struggles of a people determined to hold firm to God’s promises this time around, the novel paints a portrait of life in camp at the end of the wilderness wanderings.
The life of Rahab herself is cast in shades of hopelessness; a woman who had long ago lost faith in the idols of her people who demanded child sacrifice, a woman wounded by her family, a woman desperate for mercy. Her faith blossoms after encountering the God of the Israelites personally, and she is led to aid the scouts sent to Jericho (leading to her own deliverance and that of her family from destruction.)
The scenes in which Rahab and her family are slowly integrated into the life of the Hebrews are fascinating – filled with rich detail; putting meat on the bones of the sacrifices and laws described in such detail in the book of Leviticus. Reading of how the actions of a formerly pagan woman are interpreted as acts of great faith helps to put her actions with the spies into perspective.
Rahab’s romance with Salmone deals with themes that most of us struggle with – self righteousness, feeling undeserving of God’s love, being taunted by the enemy about the sin in our past. Afshar’s skilfull handling of these themes weave valuable lessons about forgiveness, God’s love, and our worth in His eyes into the text of her novel.
Pearl in the Sand is a lovely story, vividly written, and is sure to please devotees of biblical fiction. This imagining of Rahab’s life has certainly fulfilled my desire to enter into the life of the mysterious woman more deeply.
Jennifer Bogart is a child of God, wife and homeschooling mother of three young children (so far). She writes homeschooling resources with her husband at Bogart Family Resources, and reviews as a creative outlet. Passionately dedicated to promoting the work of Christian authors and artists, her blog Quiverfull Family features reviews, contests, family updates, homeschooling tidbits and well - a bit of everything.