Eight years ago, after the Philistines surrendered the stolen Ark of the Covenant back to the Israelites, Eliora and her brother left their Philistine homeland to follow it to the community of Kiryat-Yearim. Though they both were lovingly enfolded into a Levite family that guards the Ark, Eliora can’t stop feeling like she doesn’t belong.
Meanwhile, a faction of discontent Hebrews finds Kiryat-Yearim to be an unfit resting place and believes that the sacred vessel should be in the hands of the priests who mean to restore the Holy of Holies in a new location. Under the guise of gathering Hebrews to worship together for the festivals, Levite musician Ronen has been sent by his uncle to find where the Ark has been hidden and steal it back. But Ronen never expected that the Philistine girl he rescued years ago would now be part of the very family he’s tasked to deceive.
Ronen’s attempts to charm Eliora into revealing the location of the Ark lead them in unexpected directions, as they must battle betrayal and fear to help establish Israel’s leadership for a better future.
Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the words and opinions below are my own.
Connilyn Cossette returns with a new series about Philistine siblings living around the time of the prophet, Samuel, in the Old Testament.
To Dwell Among Cedars had me gripped from the beginning, especially since I knew it was the first novel in a two-part series. The information for book two, Between the Wild Branches, is already available, so I had a rough approximation of how this title might end. As with many of the historical fiction books I read, I found myself searching for additional and corroborating information from external sources. One thing I hadn’t thought about was the origin of the Philistine people. Cossette subscribes to the view that they were part of a group called the Sea People, who came to the land rather than having always been there. As with almost every battle that’s taken place, the Biblical fights between the Hebrews and the Philistines were struggles for land. Whoever had the most land had the most power.
Add in religion, and it’s easy to understand why Ronen was disillusioned with the Ark and the God it represented; his father and brothers had been killed in the battle at which the Ark had been captured. Meanwhile, Eliora had seen how the Philistine god, Dagon, had appeared seemingly powerless when the “magic box” had been placed in his temple in Ashdod and when a plague decimated her people a short time later. Having a Philistine who believed more in God than a Levite did makes for an interesting situation.
The Covenant House series takes place some 400 years after the end of Cossette’s last series. The Hebrews are in the Promised Land, but they’re still not exactly an obedient lot. It’s ultimately why a group of men think they know better than God about where the Ark should be kept, and it’s a lesson Ronen needs to learn. But, among the pages, long time readers of Cossette’s will pick up on a connection to her first novel. When I came across it, I flipped through the pages of Counted with the Stars, to make sure I wasn’t remembering wrong. Once I confirmed the memory, I said, “Wow.” Thank you, Connilyn, for letting those beloved characters live on in some small way generations later.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 01 December 2020
Connilyn Cossette is a Christy Award and Carol Award winning author whose books have been found on ECPA and CBA bestseller lists. When she is not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible to discover gems of grace that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Although she and her husband have lived all over the country in their twenty-plus years of marriage, they currently call a little town south of Dallas, Texas, their home.
Connilyn Cossette’s Website https://www.connilyncossette.com/