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About the Book
Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers who died at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife. As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. His reason affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her own tribe.
I haven’t read Christian Fiction in a while but I knew I had to get this book immediately I saw it on NetGalley. I don’t know much about Naomi from the Bible apart from her story in relation to Ruth and this is one of the reasons as to why I was interested in this book. However, the book is really not based on the Biblical Naomi but it is more about the Israelite tribes.
The story begins at the dance where all the women were dancing in hopes of attracting suitable suitors. The tradition was that the suitors would then pay the bride price before taking the selected woman. However, raiders from the Benjamites tribe soon came in and kidnapped the women. Not only were the women forcefully taken away from their families but their fathers were also denied the bride price. The man who took Naomi is Eliab. I don’t know how to describe this well but the custom at that time was for the men to immediately sleep with the women that they intended to marry. The act sort of solidified the union. However, Eliab was different from the other men. He decided to wait until Naomi was ready. This was a complication though because his failure to ‘properly’ claim her meant that any other man could. So the couple decided to hide this part of their agreement.
The narration describes Naomi’s journey to the new tribe. She is distraught at being taken away from her family by a strange man. In addition, she is haunted by deaths of her brothers. Nevertheless, Naomi is portrayed as a brave woman as she tackled different challenges. She is compassionate even to those who don’t deserve it. I also liked how Eliab was portrayed as a God-fearing man. He was gentle and so different from the others in his tribe. It was interesting to see how the relationship between the two developed over time.
This book is very well-written with captivating prose. I found myself lost in ancient Israel, experiencing the cultures and beliefs of the characters. Towards the end of the story, the story was so intense that I couldn’t stop turning pages to see how it ends. I think the ending was befitting and satisfactory. Barbara Britton did an amazing job with this book. She used Biblical narratives to create stunning work of fiction. However, the message wasn’t lost in the story. I liked how the character’s faith was subtly portrayed without the book losing its storyline. Building Benjamin by Barbara Britton is a book that I recommend to fans of Christian and Historical Fiction.