Interview with Carole Towriss, author of In The Shadow of Sinai

Narelle here. I’m delighted to welcome Biblical fiction author Carole Towriss to our blog.



Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks, writes and waits for summertime to return to the beach. Her first novel, In the Shadow of Sinai, released November 1. You can find her at www.CaroleTowriss.com.

Back cover blurb:

Bezalel is a Hebrew slave to Ramses II. An artisan of the highest order, Ramses has kept him in the palace even when all other Israelites have been banned. Bezalel blames El Shaddai for isolating him from his people.

When Moses and Aaron appear one summer, and El Shaddai shakes Egypt to its core, Bezalel must reexamine his anger. Over the course of the next year, Bezalel’s life becomes intertwined with those of an Egyptian child-slave, the captain of the guard, and especially a beautiful young concubine.

When spring arrives, all of them escape with the young nation of Israel. But that’s only the beginning…

Narelle: What was your inspiration for writing In the Shadow of Sinai?

Carole: I was reading the Bible – I think I was in church – in Exodus 31. “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.’ And I thought, ‘Now how would a slave know how to do all that?’ God could have just poof, given him all that knowledge, but that’s no fun, and generally not how God works. So I made up a story.

Narelle: What do you find most fascinating about Ancient Egypt?

Carole: Egypt was way ahead of its time and vastly different from all the nations surrounding it. Women had many rights. They could own land, have a career, choose their husbands, initiate divorce–they were basically equal. All the other nations were patriarchal. Women belonged to first their fathers, then their husbands.

Narelle: How did the Egyptians treat Hebrew slaves?

Carole: That’s hard to say, as many secular scholars say there is no evidence for Israelites at all in Egypt. Those that admit it disagree with the Ten Commandments movie portrayal of taskmasters whipping slaves all day for no reason. It seems they had villages and were reasonably well treated, more like indentured servants, except for incidents like killing the baby boys when the pharaoh thought they grew too numerous.

Narelle: The Egyptians had their own gods and religious beliefs. How did their beliefs differ to the Israelites?

Carole: The Egyptians had innumerable gods, each in control of one or more aspects of nature or life. The people had to make sacrifices to appease them. The sun god was the most important and at times the pharaoh was even considered to be a god himself.

Narelle: Do many real life Biblical characters play a role in your book?

Carole: Bezalel is the man who built the ark of the Covenant. He is mentioned three times in the Bible. The story is told through his eyes, from the year of the plagues through the first year of the Exodus, which is spent largely at the foot of Mt Sinai.

Ramses II is the pharaoh in my book, although the identity of the pharaoh of the Exodus is hotly debated. Moses and Aaron, Joshua and Caleb, and Bezalel’s grandfather Hur are also in there.

Narelle: In the Shadow of Sinai is the first book in your Journey to Canaan trilogy. Please tell us about your upcoming releases.

Carole: The sequel By the Waters of Kadesh picks up when they leave Mt Sinai, believing they will enter the Promised Land in just a few weeks. Kadesh follows the twelve spies through their journey through Canaan, and examines what happens after ten of them declare the land cannot be conquered. Almost all the characters from Book One, as well as some new ones, will be there!

Carole will be guest blogging with us tomorrow on The Sovereignty of God.

To learn more about Carole and her books, please visit her website www.CaroleTowriss.com

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Joshua and Caleb explore the land of Canaan

by Narelle Atkins

Under Moses’ leadership, God rescued the Israelites from the harsh rule of Pharaoh in Egypt. Moses led the Israelites into the desert on their journey to Canaan, the land God had promised to Abraham and his descendents.

In Numbers 13 and 14, Moses appointed a leader from each of the tribes of Israel and sent them to explore the land of Canaan. Joshua (from the tribe of Ephraim) and Caleb (from the tribe of Judah) reported that the land was flowing with milk and honey. Caleb told Moses and the Israelites that they could take possession of the land but the leaders from the other tribes gave false reports to the people and stirred up unrest among the Israelites. They claimed the people of Canaan were too powerful and they didn’t believe they could conquer the land. Joshua and Caleb appealed to the Israelites to not be afraid of the people in Canaan because the Lord was with them.

God punished the Israelites for their unfaithfulness. He said that all males over the age of twenty, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, would die in the desert and not enter the promised land of Canaan.

The Israelites spent forty years roaming the desert and Moses died before the Israelites conquered Canaan. God appointed Joshua to take over from Moses as the leader of the Israelites. In Deuteronomy 31:23 God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous and promised He will be with Joshua as he leads the Israelites into Canaan.

Who is God talking to in Genesis 1?

by Deborah Horscroft

We have a good friend who become a Christian and she asks the BEST questions. She decided to start reading the Bible from the beginning and called me when she reached Genesis 1:26 (NIV).

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

She asked, “Who is God talking to?”

Now, my immediate response is to want to say, “The rest of the Trinity: Jesus and the Holy Spirit”. John 1:1-18 places Jesus at the moment of creation (In the Beginning) and describes all things being made through him. But that isn’t and can not be the whole answer, because the writer of Genesis had no concept of the Trinity. So a full answer must look at the author’s purpose as well as our understanding in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Traditionally, both Jews and Christians believe that Genesis through to Deuteronomy, otherwise known as the Law or the Pentateuch, was written by Moses. In John 5:37-40 & 45-46 (NIV) Jesus claims that Moses wrote about him.

“And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life… But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

Moses had a unique education, first as a student in the Egyptian palace and then hearing directly from Yahweh and receiving His laws. The creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 is written not as a mere narrative, but to both stir the hearts of God’s people in reverent awe and to speak strongly against the alternative creation accounts of the surrounding nations-including the very powerful nation of Egypt, from under whose slavery the first intended audience had recently escaped.

In his helpful commentary “Salvation Begins: Reading Genesis Today”, Andrew Reid points out that unlike contemporary ancient accounts, in Genesis there is no story of a deity coming into existence, God simply is. God makes matter rather than being made out of it. While the surrounding nations have the sun, moon and stars as powerful deities in their creation myths, in Genesis these are created entities which display God’s power. Humans are not created as an afterthought or a whim, but are the pinnacle of God’s creation, placed in a world designed for their comfort and rule. (Aquila Press 2000, p6) Moses describes the King and Creator announcing his crowning work of creation. God makes two humans in His own image. He makes them intelligent, relational beings and He makes them rulers over the earth.

In this original context my NIV Study Bible notes tell me God is speaking as “Creator- King” to the members of His heavenly court, and indeed there are other examples in scripture of God speaking to the angels and including them in His actions. In Genesis 3:22 God laments that man has become “like one of us, knowing good and evil”. The prophet Isaiah saw a vision of Heaven and God speaking to the angels, asking “who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8) In the light of New Testament revelation, the doctrine of the Trinity adds a new dimension to this text, showing the involvement of the Son and Holy Spirit from the very beginning.

As for the implications of being made in God’s image for the sanctity of human life and believers being conformed to Christ’s likeness (Romans 8:29), those are questions for another day.