Jabez : A Novel

Once in a great while I find a book that is so well-crafted, with language so perfectly chosen, that it makes me literally sigh with delight. This is such a book.

The story is of Jabez, a real man of the Old Testament who is introduced to us in the book of 1 Chronicles. His famous prayer was a simple one but the time in which he lived was complex. Israel had abandoned God and God had allowed them to suffer under the rule of a foreign king for eighteen years. As usual the Bible tells only the essential details of the life of Jabez. We know that his name meant “pain” and we know that he cried out to God and God “granted him what he requested”. Into this framework the author breathes life.

First a mystery is woven and then it is slowly unraveled. One beautiful sentence flows into another, creating strong images and emotions that connect the reader with the man and his times. In the end we sense God, the Old Testament God, throwing a shadow of the New Testament grace to come over a people He longed to shelter.

This book is a treasure and one that will find its way into my hands again and again.

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