Author: Jill Eileen Smith
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Release Date: February 1, 2022
Two brothers. One betrayal.
The patriarch Jacob has made it no secret that young Joseph is his favorite son. Growing up as the pampered heir to his father's legacy, Joseph thrives under the praise of his father but struggles with the disdain of his older brothers, especially Judah. When a chance comes along to rid themselves of Joseph, his brothers sell him to slave traders and deceive their father about his fate.
Joseph, now serving the captain of Pharaoh's palace guard, is imprisoned after being falsely accused of rape. Back home, Judah leaves his father and builds a new life in Canaan, attempting to flee the memory of his complicity in the betrayal of his younger brother.
Decades later, the brothers will come face-to-face, and this time Joseph has the upper hand. Will forgiveness or vengeance win the day?
Reviewer: Marie Edwards
I was introduced to the genre of Biblical Fiction in March 2020 with Tessa Afshar’s Daughter of Rome. That story is connected to her 2021 release – Jewel of the Nile.
Last year, I saw Jill Eileen Smith’s Miriam’s Song on Interviews & Reviews and decided to request it. Unlike Afshar’s books, which center on characters that lived in biblical times, Smith’s characters are directly from the bible – Miriam and, in this one, Joseph.
She has a gift to craft captivating and compelling stories from the bible, bringing the bible to life in ways that even a movie can’t. This rivals the epic bible movies of the late-1950’s to mid-1970s, especially The Ten Commandments (Charlton Heston, 1956).
Like Miriam’s Song, this is a standalone read as well. Anyone reading this will feel like they are reading Genesis 37:1 to 47:12. Smith adds dialogue and emotion to the story – heart-breaking and tragic while remaining hopeful and moving.
Smith beautifully and vividly brings to life the prodigal son’s bible story of betrayal, suffering, loss, abundance, and forgiveness. The story’s tone is set off by the evocative cover.
Since this is a bible story in fiction form – some rather disturbing topics/themes will be mentioned or play out:
These incidents, which occurred quite often during that time and were not thought too much out of the normal, might disturb today’s readers. Caution is VERY strongly advised.
It isn’t until about chapter 11 (page 96; roughly 28% in) that the “story” really picks up with Joseph being sold to a caravan of Ishmaelites, who then sell him to Egypt. Judah feels immense guilt for his father’s inconsolable grief and leaves. He settles into Canaan, hoping to forget Joseph’s cries for help.
Joseph doesn’t embrace his fate, but he doesn’t attempt to escape it either, as he knows the consequence of such an action. Instead, he leans more into his father's God and prays to Adonai (the term they used for God) to deliver him back to his father.
The different lives of Joseph and Judah play out. Judah’s life takes tragic steps, leaving him wondering if “God” was punishing him for what he’d done. Joseph’s life isn’t much better. At one point, he ends up in prison. Yet, Joseph eventually ends up in a better position and wonders if this is the life God has prepared him for.
On each side of the story, there was a theme that while God takes away (punishes), he also gives (rewards). I wasn’t surprised by the ending. By reading the bible, one can usually see the ending. I was amazed by how enthralled I was by the story.
Biblical Fiction isn’t one of my “favorite” genres. I have read less than five novels in the genre. As soon as I got this, I kept drifting towards it. I read 70 pages in 30 minutes, and I didn’t want to put it down. And, within 2 hours, I’d read 150 pages.
Fans of the author and the genre will undoubtedly appreciate and love this latest release. I definitely am a fan of Smith’s writing and look forward to seeing her next book.
This book was provided courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Mindy Houng
“But I suppose sometimes hardship is what leads us to seek the things we’ve always known were true.”
Jill Eileen Smith always brings the Bible to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this epic thirty somewhat-year journey with Joseph. But this book is not just about Joseph. It’s also about Judah - thus the title The Prince and the Prodigal. I had never paid much attention to Judah having left his family after selling Joseph and what transpired afterwards. Judah’s account gave me a fresh perspective on how Judah must have matured through his hardships to become the man who faces Joseph in Egypt with integrity and humility.
The book is a little different in that many voices narrate the story. Joseph and Judah have the strongest voices, but Jacob, Reuben, Dinah, Tamar, and Asenath also tell parts of the story that make the plot much richer. The author has a way of transporting the reader into her book. One can smell and taste the flatbread and stew, touch and hear the goats and sheep grazing, and see the magnificence of the Pharaoh’s holdings. It’s such a familiar story yet made new by the author’s incredible storytelling. It gave me a deeper appreciation for Joseph’s faith, Judah’s renewed commitment to family, and Jacob’s trials and heartaches.
I received the book from Revell via Interviews and Reviews. I was under no obligation to post a positive comment. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Lori Parrish
This just has to be my most favorite Biblical story of all time. I love it because it offers hope, love, compassion, and redemption for those in the story that need it. I love this story simply for the love that God has for all of us, and He never ever leaves us. God has a plan for all of us, even though we might not see it at the time. We are all like Joseph at times and Judah too.
I know this sounds strange and dumb, but I really enjoyed Judah's part of the story. Here's why I love Judah. It is because he wasn't perfect by any means. We can definitely learn from him. Ms. Smith does a wonderful job of putting feelings into Judah and Joseph to make them so realistic that I wanted to cry because of the injustice of it all. Yet, at the same time, there's a lesson to be learned here.
I couldn't put the book down until I finished it. Now I wished I'd savored it because it will be a while before Ms. Smith comes out with another one. This particular story was very satisfying, and these characters will be with me for a long time.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
The story of Joseph is probably one of the best-known stories in the Bible. It is one of the first stories you hear in Sunday School. It is so familiar that it was turned into a Broadway play. These reasons might make you hesitate to read The Prince and the Prodigal by Jill Eileen Smith. But I would urge you to put those reasons aside because this book is gripping even though you know the end of the story.
I loved how the author captured the emotions of her characters, from Jacob's favouritism towards Joseph and Joseph's discomfort over that favouritism. This resulted in hatred from his brothers and ultimately why Joseph was sold into slavery. Did God put it in Jacob's heart to shower Joseph with attention and ignore his other sons? Or did he use Jacob's actions to further His plan for the nation of Israel? This story has so many layers that each page presents new insights into a tale as old as time.
Little-known characters like Dinah and Tamar are also brought to life with their tragic and emotional stories. The author created a compelling narrative of Jacob's family that was hard to put down.
The prodigal aspect of this story is genius. As we see Joseph remain faithful to God through prayer, the opposite is true of Judah. His solution to literally run away from his guilt allowed the author to bring both characters to life in an emotional and satisfying finish.
This book will speak to those struggling with their faith, guilt, or anything that would hamper their relationship with God. Don't pass it by because you think you know the story. You will miss out on a beautiful depiction of God's love, faithfulness and hope. I highly recommend it.
I received this book courtesy of Revell through NetGalley for the purpose of my honest review.
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