Among the many many characters of my novel, Babylon: A Novel of Jewish Captivity, is Mara. She is the daughter of Sarah, who was captured by Nebuchadnezzar’s troopers on the age of 15, compelled to endure a brutal march throughout harsh desert sands to Babylon and lift a household on a small barley farm on the outskirts of the capital, all of the whereas longing to return to Judea.
A serious theme within the novel is the tug-of-war between assimilation and persevering with to imagine in a God who seems to have deserted His individuals. Sarah’s 4 youngsters make very completely different selections on this regard – one totally adopting Babylonian idols and succumbing to the nation’s many temptations, one other compromising between capturing Biblical tales as a scribe but marrying out of the religion, and one more changing into obsessively rigorous in his adherence to the practices of the Hebrew individuals.
However Mara, whose identify means bitterness in Hebrew, doesn’t share the appearance of freedom her siblings get pleasure from, regardless of their exile. Due to a promise made to Babylonian royalty, she finally ends up serving as a slave within the palace. Brutalized by the whims of the careless and uncaring nobles, Mara’s religion is tempted previous endurance, as she explains to Uri, her half-brother, when he makes an attempt to purchase her launch from servitude:
“Mara.” Uri rose, thrusting the pouch at her. “Take the cash. Purchase your freedom.”
Mara’s arms moved behind her again. “No, brother. You requested me if I had misplaced my perception within the Most Excessive. The reply is way worse.”
Uri stared. Her face abruptly appeared ravaged, as if the shadow of each sleepless night time and furrowed tear might be traced upon it.
“I imagine in Him—and I hate Him,” Mara whispered. “He has given me nothing however ache and struggling. He robbed me of all I might need held pricey. He’s nothing however a taunting bully.”
Uri laid a hand on her shoulders. “Mara, nobody is saying your life has not been onerous….”
Mara stepped again, out of his attain. “My life? If it have been solely my life, brother…. However I see what life has turn out to be for all of us, how completely different from the world Father and Mom and Uncle Seraf grew up in. Why did the Lord forsake us? Why did He break his promise to us?” Mara compelled amusing out of a throat that sounded parched and sore. “All my life I’ve waited for an indication that God loves His individuals—and as a substitute, I used to be offered into slavery, right into a world of baseless needs and heartless ambitions. He rewarded my mom by permitting a soldier to rape her and took her lover’s—your father’s—manhood. He gave my father a dry portion of land and a spouse who was grateful to him however may by no means love him.”
Mara turned away. “And also you and Nachum? You married out of the religion and Nachum struggles to maintain his brood consumed a tiny farm that can by no means belong to him. Solely Rahil—egocentric, greedy Rahil—did your Almighty see match to reward.” Her shoulders sagged. “No, I gained’t purchase my freedom, Uri. I hoped for honey cake and your Lord God gave me a thimbleful of stale crumbs. I’ll keep the place He has positioned me and dine on them.”
Because the novel progresses, it seems that Mara won’t ever get better her religion. She dismisses any makes an attempt made by her brother and even Daniel the prophet to assist her discover peace. However then one other prophet, the second Isaiah, comes alongside. And by some means, his phrases attain her:
Then the younger prophet spoke of struggling. Uri noticed Mara straighten, fixing her eyes on his face. “He provides energy to the faint; and to him that has no would possibly He will increase power,” he proclaimed, “they that await the Lord shall renew their power; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and never be weary; they shall stroll, and never faint.”
An immense burden lifted from Uri’s shoulders, watching the transfixed look on his half-sister’s face. This younger Isaiah had made inroads in Mara’s soul the place he and Daniel had persistently failed.
Uri stopped to greet Daniel as he left, hunching a shoulder in Mara’s course. “She’s lastly discovered some semblance of peace,” he mentioned, bending low to talk into Daniel’s good ear.
However God is just not finished testing Mara, and as a number of of the household depart Babylon when King Cyrus conquers the nation and permits them to return to Judea, she is stricken with breast most cancers. In her delirium, she desires of Daniel within the lion’s den, a miracle that has not but occurred. She insists that Daniel be summoned and relates what she has seen. After she completes her story, realizing she has finished God’s will, Mara succumbs to a peaceable loss of life:
Mara delivered the story in a transparent voice, however with the final sentence, she was beset with a coughing match. As Daniel and Ezra watched, helpless, she coughed up thick blood and mucus, staining her bedclothes. Rahil clutched her sister to her bosom, attempting to appease her.
“I’ll ship the king’s doctor,” Daniel mentioned.
Mara shook her head, gasping out, “No want. I’ve instructed you of my imaginative and prescient, and God is happy. He’ll ship me of my ache and struggling. I’m prepared.”
Ezra backed away. Daniel bent and kissed her brow. “Sure, God is happy with you, my baby. Go in peace.”
Mara’s coughing ceased, and Rahil turned away to bid farewell to the parting visitors. Mara had felt a delicate heat pervade her physique as Daniel spoke his final phrases to her, realizing they have been a benediction. When Rahil returned to her sister, Mara was gone, her lips turned upward in a tranquil smile.
Mara is simply one of many many characters who should discover a path to religion in Babylon, regardless of the trials compelled upon them. I skilled trials of my very own with this novel: accomplished greater than a decade in the past, I needed to wait, kind of patiently, till the appropriate time and the appropriate writer appeared to convey it into the world. I at all times had religion that it might, sometime, occur – and am delighted that, in the end, it has.
In regards to the creator: Michelle Cameron is the creator of Jewish historic fiction, together with her most up-to-date being Babylon: A Novel of Jewish Captivity. Earlier work consists of the award-winning Past the Ghetto Gates and The Fruit of Her Arms: the story of Shira of Ashkenaz. She has additionally printed a verse novel, Within the Shadow of the Globe. Napoleon’s Mirage, the sequel to Past the Ghetto Gates, is forthcoming in August 2024.
Michelle is a director of The Writers Circle, a NJ-based artistic writing program serving youngsters, teenagers, and adults. She lives in Chatham, NJ, together with her husband and has two grown sons of whom she is inordinately proud.
Go to her on-line:
· Web site: https://michelle-cameron.com/
· Instagram: @michellecameronwriter