The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

The Triumph of Deborah is Eva Etzioni-Halevy’s most recent novel, published in 2008. It tells the story of Deborah, an Israelite prophet and judge, who lived in the time of the Old Testament book of Judges, probably somewhere between the 12th and 11th centuries BCE. Deborah is given a vision from the Lord to make war upon the Canaanites, and she chooses Barak, a young commander, to lead the Israelites in this war. When Barak defeats the Canaanite king, he takes captive two Canaanite princesses, who will eventually form part of a complex, emotional tug-of-war between Barak and Deborah.

I found the author’s treatment of Deborah to be fascinating. She was a fully powerful leader, demanding the respect of the elders of her tribe, and yet she was also a wife and mother, desiring to be led by the wishes of her husband. Etzioni-Halevy walks the tightrope of power and expectations well, and I found Deborah’s struggle to resolve her call to leadership with her desire to be a proper wife and mother to be completely believable. Nogah, one of the princesses taken captive by Barak, was equally intriguing, and almost the co-heroine of the novel. Each of the main characters takes a turn having their stories told, and I found myself sympathizing with and being frustrated with them equally – much like in real life, I would imagine. My main quibble with the book is that I felt we spent too much time in the characters’ love lives, when I would have preferred more exploration of the themes of war and peace, and female empowerment versus traditional roles. But in general, I was captivated by the novel, and recommend it to fans of historical/biblical fiction.

Rating: 7/10

Reviewed by: Elizabeth

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

  1. Hello Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your thoughtful review of THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH!

    If it’s OK, I would like to add a comment. Based on the book of JUDGES, the novel shows that in her own life Deborah was very much a woman, and that her femininity did not detract from her stature as national leader.

    She must have been a very forceful leader, to be able to compel warrior Barak to go to war under such unfavorable, nearly hopeless circumstances. Yet the Bible, indeed she herself, also emphasizes her femininity: she refers to herself as “a mother in Israel”.

    The novel further develops the combination between leadership and femininity, and is iteded to show that there was no contradiction between the two.

    The same can be said of women attaining high-ranking positions today: There is no evidence to show that they are less feminine (attractive, gentle, showing sympathy to others, motherly) than stay-at-home moms.


    Eva Etzioni-Halevy

  2. marshkb

    This is another great sounding book 🙂

  3. eschulenburg

    Hi Eva –

    Thanks for the comment. I agree that your book does an excellent job of examining the dual roles of leader and woman. I think you have a lot of interesting ideas about the roles of women in society, and I hope to read more of them in your future work!


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