Most people, even those who aren’t religious, are familiar with Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. Moses’ successor Joshua is known for the Battle of Jericho and how the walls came tumbling down. Richard H. Grabmeier’s curiosity about these pivotal biblical figures led him to write The Prophet and The Warrior, a work of historical fiction in which he takes a gloves-off approach to lay bare the humanity of these two men.
The key word here is fiction, as the author uses biblical references only as a launching point and admits this isn’t meant to be a scholarly representation. Grabmeier’s goal is to present an alternative to what he considers a bland representation of Moses and Joshua, and he achieves it, leaning heavily into the unsympathetic aspects of his protagonists. For example, the author shows a crafty Moses guiltlessly commanding the Levites to slay all who worship the golden calf, as well as plotting the surreptitious poisoning of a small band of men who doubted his leadership.
The narrative is equally unsparing when describing the details of battles to take over the Promised Land, such as this scene in a “livestock hold” during combat: “A huge bull, incensed by this violation of his domain, chased a group of Israelite soldiers until it impaled one on his massive horns. It stood goring the screaming man until he became still, then turned its attention to others chasing them with the intestines of the first unfortunate fluttering from his horns like a grisly banner.“
The characters feel authentic, rather than cardboard, and the author’s writing style is fluid. Readers should note that while the narrative is effectively written, this isn’t planned to be a concordance to the Bible. They should be open to speculation about “what ifs” in biblical history, setting aside any preconceived opinions of the titular characters.
Overall, the book is well-crafted and enjoyable and should satisfy fans of this historical genre.
Also available in hardcover and paperback.