What would it have been like to live in Egypt during the ten plagues that God used to convince Pharaoh to let His people go? It’s a story we’ve heard many times over; maybe in Sunday School we even memorized what the ten plagues were. But the idea of locusts or frogs or even darkness has gotten lost in the repetition—or in the focus on the Israelites’ deliverance. What about the Egyptians?
That’s the question asked in Exodus by Cliff Graham. This novel, about Moses’ friend Caleb, is the first in the Shadow of the Mountain series.
I received this novel for review courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
The Plot of Exodus by Cliff Graham
As the novel opens, Caleb is an old man, preparing to lead his Israelite troops to conquer a Canaanite city. As they wait out the rain so they can attack, Caleb’s nephew Othniel asks him to reminisce about the old days in Egypt.
And so Caleb tells how he came to Egypt as a young, talented but arrogant young man seeking work. His skills as a carver quickly catch the attention of a wealthy patron, who then sends Caleb to join the elite Red Scorpions of the Egyptian army to further his career. Training and serving with the Red Scorpions brings Caleb into the circle of Pharaoh, from which he is poised to watch Moses and Aaron enter Egypt with their strange demands.
Caleb watches as the plagues descend upon Egypt, sending the once-mighty Pharaoh and his entire country to their knees. In graphic details, Caleb explains exactly how each plague devastated the city. Seeing the power of Yahweh over the Egyptians gods, and also His compassion for His own people, Caleb turns his back on Egypt to join the Exodus.
My Thoughts on Exodus
Graham mentions in a note about writing Biblical fiction, “It will quickly become apparent that I have taken a considerable amount of license with the story of Caleb in the Scriptures. He is only briefly mentioned, and therefore much imagination is required to fill in the blanks where the Bible is silent.” Like Graham, though, I’ve often wondered about who Caleb was—and about the Egyptians whom the Bible mentions went with the Israelites when they left.
One thing that surprised me about the story was that Caleb was not Israelite. Graham notes, “I’m sure others know this, but it is not common knowledge. It’s likely that Caleb was not an ethnic Hebrew, but instead a member of a desert tribe known as the Kenizzites. He’s one of the first examples of how God’s covenant with Israel was intended for all people.”
Exodus goes back and forth between Caleb as an old man leading his troops against a walled city, and Caleb as a young man watching the events of legend unfold in Egypt. I appreciated the old man’s perspective upon his younger self, the commentary that Caleb offers about his choices as a young man and how those choices led him to where he is now. It also balanced the fact that the younger Caleb is a hot-headed, arrogant, almost unlikeable character.
More about Cliff Graham
Cliff Graham is a former US soldier with degrees in political and military science (which came through in his descriptions of war and soldier training in this novel). He and his wife and children currently live in Utah. Graham is also the author of the Lion of War series, about King David’s Mighty Men. For more about him or his book, visit his website. You can also find Graham on Facebook and Twitter.
Like Biblical fiction? Check out some of the other novels I’ve reviewed!
Have you read Exodus by Cliff Graham or other novels about this time period?