Thoughts on: Melachim Gimmel (Kings III) by Yochi Brandes

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About:
“Melachim Gim­mel” (Kings III) by Yochi Bran­des is a bib­li­cal fic­tion book which, pre­sump­tu­ously enough, is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the bib­li­cal books of Kings I and Kings II. While not her first novel, this is the first “bib­li­cal” novel the for­mer ultra-orthodox author wrote.

My rat­ing for Melachim Gim­mel — 4

Thoughts:
“Melachim Gim­mel” (Kings III) by Yochi Bran­des is a fas­ci­nat­ing book which attempts to turn some of the bib­li­cal sto­ries on their heads and give the reader a new per­spec­tive. While some peo­ple find that offen­sive, I am not included in those and actu­ally find those type of books cap­ti­vat­ing.

The book fol­lows the life of Yerov'am ( Jer­oboam — "the peo­ple con­tend," or, "he pleads the people's cause"), son of Nebat, an Ephraimite, and of Zeruah, a widow and the fourth king of Israel. In the bible Jer­oboam is depicted as a hor­ri­ble leader, a man who com­mit­ted appalling acts in G-d’s eyes when he divided the king­dom. How­ever, the author depicts Jer­oboam as the “good guy”, an enlight­en­ing man who saved the king­dom from the clutches of King David.

Ms. Bran­des depicts the women in this book as strong and assertive. The women are the ones who pull the string in the monar­chy, some­times David and Jer­oboam, but I found it hilar­i­ous to read her descrip­tion of King Solomon, known for his wis­dom, but in this ver­sion is noth­ing but a mama’s boy who picks the ripe fruits his mother’s con­niv­ing has planted.

As with most Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture, names play a huge role in this book. No name, even one invented by the author, is a whim – they are all mean­ing­ful and sig­nif­i­cant in their own way.

What I absolutely loved about the book is that it empha­sizes the power of the writ­ten word. Ms. Bran­dis con­tin­u­ally main­tains, through her nar­ra­tive, that the pen is indeed might­ier than the sword. While the sword deter­mines life and death in the “now”, the pen deter­mines life and death for future gen­er­a­tions. The cul­ture that is fought upon will be won by sto­ries (the bible in this case) rather than the might of the king.

So tell me, do you think that cul­ture stays together because of stories?

Syn­op­sis:
The book is divided into three parts:

Part one is when we get intro­duced to a child named Shlom’am (peace­ful peo­ple) and fol­low him from child­hood to young adulthood.

Part two fol­lows Michal, King Saul’s daugh­ter and the wife of King David. Michal is act­ing as if she is insane to fool every­one around her. She screams at night, lights thou­sands of can­dles all in order to hide the fact that she is in cahoots with Hadad the Edomite so she can restore the king­dom to the right­ful lin­eage of King Saul.

Part three brings the book together when Shlom’am becomes King Yerov'am, fourth king of Israel, and ful­fils the prophecy of Elisha.

Zohar — Man of la Book

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