God's Equal Rights Amendment
“Why should the name of my father
be wiped from Israel like footprints in a sandstorm
because he bore only daughters?”
The promised land—God’s precious gift to the Israelites through the conquest of Canaan. Precious indeed, but for Rizpah and her sisters, the promise seemed empty. Only a male could claim a family’s inheritance of land, and since Rizpah and her sisters had no brothers or husbands, their jealous, scheming relatives were ready to take all that was intended for their father, leaving them with nothing.
Only one alternative was possible: Rizpah must petition Moses on behalf of herself and her sisters.
But what would Caleb think of her boldness? Would it ruin whatever chance they might have at love? Despite the odds against her, Rizpah had to fight for what was rightfully hers.
Originally published by Thomas Nelson. Author Aggie Villanueva traveled to Israel to research Rightfully Mine, the story of Rizpah (Noah, as she is referred to in NUmber 27). With Deborah Lawrence, Villanueva is also the coauthor of the biblical novel Chase the Wind.
“How does my brother-in-law fare?” a voice shrilled beside
Rizpah, startling her.
“Not well, I fear, Aunt Puah. He’s sleeping now.”
“It’s such a shame,” clucked Puah, wife of Zelophehad’s
oldest half brother. “I was telling Enosh, when your father
first took ill...‘It’s a shame,’ I said to him, ‘that we have none
of those learned Egyptian doctors here in the desert.’ ”
“We’re doing all we can to make him comfortable,” Rizpah
mumbled, tugging at the door flap as if to enter Zelophehad’s
“I’m sure you are, my dear. I’m sure you are.” Puah
paused, but not long enough for Rizpah to escape.
“I can just feel the arrogance of the Moabites and
Midianites as they sneer down at us from the eastern
heights.” Puah squinted as if she were imagining the scene.
“They shall forever be remembered as the country who could
not match us in battle, but defeated and immobilized us by
their friendship—the friendship of their beautiful women,
that is. Because of Israel’s immorality and idolatry we stand
thus, mourning in the tents of our loved ones.” Puah looked
back at Rizpah and clucked. “It is a shame that your father’s
good name will be smeared by his falling in this plague.”
Rizpah glared at her aunt, dropping the partition to hiss,
“Many men have fallen in this plague who are innocent of its
cause, as they have also in the plagues of the other desert.
How else could an entire generation die in only forty years?
Or would you rather we tarry in the wilderness until they all
die of old age? A few more seasons here and you, too, will go
to a sandy grave, denied your inheritance.”
“I would think you could keep a more respectful tongue
under the circumstances.”
“If I were a man rebuking you, you would heed my words.”
“When you are ready to bear the burdens assigned to men,
I will give heed to you, but until the Lord Elohim changes the
status of impertinent women, I am still your elder and
worthy of that respect.” Puah jutted her chin haughtily.
Rightfully Mine by Aggie Villeneuva
Reviewed by K.M. Weiland
Author of A Man Called Outlaw, and Behold the Dawn
In this unconventional historical love story, long-time author (and photographer) Aggie Villanueva takes a thoughtful look at an event in the Bible that is often brushed over. When Manassahite patriarch Zelophehad dies, he leaves his five daughters alone in the world, without any reliable male relative to take his place as head of the family. The Israelites, after wandering in the plague-ridden desert for forty years, are preparing to move on, at last, to the Promised Land.
Under Moses’ direction, they tally their fighting men and begin casting lots for their portions of land. The only problem? Only the men are being counted, which leaves no land for the daughters of Zelophehad. But then history is changed forever when headstrong second-born daughter Rizpah (Noah in the biblical account) takes matters into her own hands and does the unthinkable by barging into the assembly and demanding an equal share of land with her father’s brothers.
Villanueva’s careful research—aided by a visit to Israel—is evident on every page of this fast read. With a light hand, she sketches the history of a people that, in our modern age, seem very foreign indeed. But Villanueva never allows the intricacies of historical detail and customs to obstruct the heart of her story: the insistent, unrequited love of a man and the demanding, struggling faith of a woman whose heart is torn between her lifelong passion for the famed warrior Caleb and her need for the just treatment of herself and her orphaned sisters.
Villanueva follows no clichéd storyline. She presents an array of plausible characters and includes an intimate look into the lives of some of the most famous biblical heroes, never faltering from uncomfortable historical facts. Her portrayal of a humanity struggling between safety and destiny is touching, palpable, and memorable. This is easily one of the best biblical novels I’ve ever read.
Rightfully Mine: God’s Equal Rights Amendment
I like that the setting of the book is set at the time that Israel, as a tribe, is about to cross the Jordan into the promised land that God has given them and it explores a little about life back then. But mainly I loved reading how Rizapah fights to change the law that does not allow women to have an inheritance in that era. This reviewer liked the book so much that she is buying it as a Christmas gift for a family member.
**** 4 stars
Carol Langstroth, Manager
Mind Fog Reviews
Rightfully Mine: God’s Equal Rights Amendment
Reviewed by Linda Yezak http://lindayezak.wordpress.com/
Ms. Yezak writes reviews for:
Christian Romance Magazine. http://www.christianromancemagazine.com/romantic-scenes.html
And has reviews featured on such sites as Jerry Jenkins, Riven. http://www.riventhebook.com/default.aspx
There is an era in Israeli history where anticipation is a palpable hum, where the bedouin lifestyle gives way to the birth of a nation, where men gear up for war: The era between their forty-year wandering and their victory over Canaan. This is the era, the setting, the people into which Aggie masterfully breathes life.
The novel opens with the impending death of Zelophehad, father of five daughters and no sons. The personality of Rizpah, his second born, is displayed fully within the first few pages–her loyalty, strength and impetuosity which everyone admires in her, and she herself despises for the weight of the punishment for her actions.
But when Moses divides the new land among the men of Israel, it is Rizpah who has the courage to fight for her family of sisters. Rizpah appeals to Moses, the God-chosen leader of all the descendants of Jacob, for a place her family can call their own.
Seamlessly woven into the plot is a love story of Rhett-Scarlett-Ashley proportions. Hanniel, Rizpah’s cousin, spends his life in love with her, but she loves Caleb–or is it hero worship, or the desires of a young, foolish heart carried into adulthood?
Her dream of becoming Caleb’s wife is at one point granted, then ripped from her grasp in an example of sacrificial obedience to God. Hanniel’s dream of becoming her husband is rebuked as she holds tight to her adolescent love for a man she could never have.
Along with the rich plot and subplot of the novel, Aggie exhibits a talent for placing the reader in the heart of the bedouin camps, in the very tents and activities of the characters she brings to life, with the economy of words that is the hallmark of a masterful writer. Her characters are full-bodied; her action scenes are tense and exciting; her love scenes are both pure and seductive.
I’d recommend this novel to anyone who wanted to step away from the ordinary.
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