If I perish… I perish.

Reading memoirs are like eavesdropping on people’s private conversations and emotions. It is like getting a backstage pass to see all that is behind the scenes. There are some people would like to get up close and personal with, God knows I would like to sit with Rahab of Jericho and have a chat, hear her story from her own mouth, her emotions, her struggles…I would like to stand before her and ask what stoked your faith so?! David, the King of Israel, soulful musician and poet, it would be a talk between two people who understand each other’s craft because it is one and the same. I would ask why he so fiercely went after God’s heart, because I think literally, he was a man after God’s own heart. Mary Magdalene…talk to me about change, Mary, about hypocrites slandering you and how to rise above them all. How did you…? If these people had diary entries, kept journals, wrote their life stories, won’t they be a delight to read?! I think they will!

So on buying this book; Hadassah, One Night with the King, I was pleased to discover it was the Hadassah her self’s account! Queen Esther’s memoir! I was already excited. Now, it is strange I had never heard of this book (which was made into a movie apparently; One Night With the King which I am yet to see) but better late than never right? Right!

The book starts in modern day Israel, where a bride-to-be named Hadassah Kesselman is taken through a family tradition that lands a book-long letter from the Original Hadassah in her hands. This letter is an account spanning from King Saul’s era up to Haman’s years of terror, and of course, his demise.

We are taken through Hadassah’s horrific past (her entire family was murdered by Agagites one night in Babylon) and her childhood after this incidence, growing up with Mordecai – who becomes a father to her.

This part of the book that takes us back to Saul’s disobedience when he was instructed by God to keep no one alive I found interesting. It was a good place to start, and it threw a little bit of light on the seemingly meaningless rage Haman had for all Jews. (Can you hear the bell ringing?)

When we enter Persia, the story moves predictably to the end, with the most moving parts being, for me, Jesse’s castration (especially when we had just been made to see just how much he adored Hadassah and had dreams of someday making her his wife, and then also just the thought of it! A young man! Made into a Eunuch! Against his will! I can’t imagine what such robbery would put me through if I were that young man). Then there was Hadassah’s encounter with Xerxes, and generally how that played out. I will admit I read it already biased towards Hadassah because as I have mentioned before in other posts, I love the name, very much, and have experienced the character on another level that really stuck with me. Then again was the moment when Hadassah, now the Queen of Persia, decided to approach the King unsummoned (a move that could cost her life); considering all that was at stake – a probable genocide, she did what she had to do, as we know from the original story, she readied to approach the King;

If I perish…I perish,

She said.

This is a love story, basically. Xerxes’s love for Hadassah gives her favour in his eyes, and damn the laws of the land, she approaches, and delivers her message with her head still on her neck.

Hadassah’s account ends where she has aged quite a bit and journeys out of Persia, and we are brought back to modern day Israel where Hadassah Kesselman is done reading the lengthy letter, a few hours to her wedding. The story ends with her standing before her king, the Prime Minister of Israel.

Putting my biases aside, I was a bit put off by the language of Hadassah’s letter; her expressions, vocabulary, were just too modern to place me way back in Old Testament years. I had to talk myself into not allowing it to affect the imagery for me, but it was hard…very hard. That aside, this is not a bad religious drama…nowhere near my reading experience with Fracine Rivers. Rivers!

Again, I am not sure if I want to see the movie, but yeah there is the movie too so…

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