Daughters of Zion
Biblical Retellings by C.A. Gray Genre: Christian Fiction, Biblical Nonfiction
Have you ever wondered what it was like for Eve to be the first woman, created as an adult but with the mind of a child? What must it have been like for Deborah to be the only female judge in Israel’s history? Ever considered how Esther felt about being chosen as queen in the ungodly kingdom of Persia—particularly when she’d have to share her husband with a harem? What must Mary and Martha have thought when their brother Lazarus had died, and it looked to them like Jesus was not coming?
This collection of retellings from the perspectives of women in scripture explores these stories and more, including a few stories from female perspectives that also appear in Messiah: Biblical Retellings. While all of these women lived in various patriarchal cultures, and some of the most prominent women were even Gentiles, scripture shows that God cherished them all. As the Apostle Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)—and this was true for believing women under the old covenant as well, whose faith was counted to them as righteousness.
These are tales of miracles and victory: from brokenness, bitterness and envy to shalom: peace and wholeness, with nothing missing and nothing broken. For some, this meant a transition from barrenness to motherhood; for others, from widowhood to love and belonging. Still others went from bereavement to receiving their dead restored to life again. They included judges and queens, and also prostitutes and despised foreigners. God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11, Acts 10:25): what He does for one, He will do for all who believe in His promises.
I breathed in, and I was. The air filled every part of me with life. This was the first thing I knew. Then I opened my eyes. The Face I beheld was like light itself, though there was also light behind Him. I had no concept of anything until that moment, but that Face was the very definition of beauty. I gazed up at Him, rapturous. His eyes were like liquid love, bursting with color, their expression infinitely gentle. “Hello, my dear,” said my Creator. “Hello,” I murmured back in wonder, marveling at the sound of my own voice, at the feel of it vibrating in my throat. On instinct I reached for Him, but had not fully completed the action when I stopped, distracted by the wonder of my own limbs. I held them up before my face, wiggling my fingers and watching them obey me. My Creator chuckled, and the sound thrilled me with warmth. I shivered, every nerve humming with the sensation. “We are Elohim,” the Creator told me. “You may call me God.” “God,” I whispered, reaching again for His face. He did not repulse me, but let me caress Him, leaning in to my palm and covering it with His own. He grinned down at me, and I reflexively grinned back. “Come. There is someone I want you to meet,” God said. He set me on my feet, and I marveled at the feeling of the spongy, dewy ground beneath my feet. As soon as I noticed the sensations, the words for them came to me. I marveled at that too: that I knew so many things I had never learned. I looked up at God, and though before I had thought of Him as infinitely larger than I was, I found that He was only about a head taller. He held my hand in His. He shone like the orb overhead that bathed us all in its light. I turned my attention to it next, and then to all it illuminated. There was a canopy of green above us, the foliage of thick trees. I identified the sounds around us as flowing water and chirping birds. I turned to see the cheerful river behind us. Flowers of every color, shape, and size bloomed all around us, and living creatures hummed all around them: hummingbirds, butterflies, bees. Other creatures covered in fur or feathers roamed throughout the land too, each of them unique and lovely in its own way. “What is this place?” I asked in wonder. “Do you like it?” He asked, but the delight in His question made it clear He knew my answer already. “Oh, yes!” “I have called it Eden. I made it for you, Adam.” I turned back, excited to hear my own name. “Am I called Adam, then?” “You were taken from Adam, your husband. I have given him the task of naming all My other creatures, so I will give him that privilege with you as well. Until then, you too are Adam.” God gestured before us, under a palm tree. “This isyourAdam. He is called a man.” A new sensation stirred in me as I beheld the creature God indicated. The man had flesh instead of fur or feathers, like I did. My eyes traced the curve of his face. His strong jaw beneath his dark beard. My mouth fell open in awe. Like all the animals, he too was beautiful, but in a completely new way. His kind of beauty allured me in a way that none of the other animals had done. As I took all of this in, he sat up, as if waking from a deep sleep. Then he saw me. His expression went slack, and I watched, gratified, as he drank me in as I had him. Slowly, he rose to his feet and took tentative steps toward me. Beside us, God beamed, delighting in our admiration of each other as much as we were. He said, “Adam, meet your helper. I have fashioned her from one of your ribs. I trust you prefer to have it back in this form.” Adam’s eyes filled with tears, as he turned to God, unable to speak, the gratitude obvious in his face. Then he looked back at me, and spoke. I could tell, even though I had never heard him speak before, that his voice was hoarse with emotion. “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” When he got close enough, he reached for my face, in the same way that I had originally reached for God’s. I copied the motion, laying my hand on top of his when he touched my cheek. “I will call her Eve, because she will be the mother of all the living.” “Eve,” I repeated, trying the sound of my own name on my tongue. I liked it. I smiled at Adam and he smiled back at me. There was nothing more to say. “I will leave you two to get acquainted,” God murmured, and took His leave. For a second the thought that He was gone alarmed me, but then Adam slid his hand from my cheek to my hand, entwining his fingers with mine. When I turned back to him, the expression on his face was so full of tenderness that I felt answering tears prick in my eyes. “You… are… exquisite,” Adam whispered to me. The words filled me up almost the way that first breath had done. I had not known I wanted to be exquisite until my husband said it—but suddenly, it was all I wanted. “Aren’t you going to show me around?” I teased, though I was very pleased with his admiration of me. “I will try, but I cannot promise I will be able to walk without tripping over my own feet,” he replied in the same tone. “I’ll be too busy looking at you.” I giggled, marveling at that instinct too, and delighting at the feel of it. Somehow, I knew what laughter was. Adam led me through the garden by the hand, calling the animals to him by name and then showing them to me. I reached out to caress them all, from the elephant to the lion to the mouse, and they nuzzled me affectionately in return. I gestured to the lion to open his mouth for me, marveling at how sharp his teeth were. He let me poke them with the tip of my finger, patiently waiting for me to extract my hand before he went about his business. I watched as he used those sharp claws to dig up root vegetables hidden in the earth, so hard that I would not have considered them food. But the lion’s incisors tore into the vegetables with no trouble at all.
C.A. Gray is the author of three YA Amazon bestselling trilogies: PIERCING THE VEIL (magic and quantum physics meet Arthurian legends), THE LIBERTY BOX (dystopian metaphysics and mind control technology), and UNCANNY VALLEY (dystopian coming-of-age with neuroscience and super intelligent A.I). She starts with some scientific concept that she's interested in learning more about herself, and then creates lots of epic chaos and high-stakes action to go along with it. Her stories are free of gratuitous violence, language, and sexual content, and she abhors depressing endings... but they're not all kittens and rainbows either! She also listens to and reviews audiobooks on her website (www.authorcagray.com), Goodreads, Instagram, and on her podcast, Clean Audiobook Reviews, where she also occasionally interviews other authors.
By day, C.A. Gray practices naturopathic medicine, podcasts, and writes medical non-fiction under her maiden name (Lauren Deville). She lives in Tucson, AZ with her husband Frank, and together they maintain an occasionally contentious film review blog (under her real name: Lauren Baden. Three names. Yes.) She's kind of the queen of multitasking--so in her spare time, she creates whatever meals or crafts she found most recently on Pinterest, drinks lots of coffee (Aeropress btw) and occasional wine (reds--and she saves the corks for craft projects), works out (while listening to audiobooks), and studies the Bible (about half of the podcasts on Christian Natural Health are scripture meditations). ...She does sleep, too.
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