I love backstory. Backstory gives us all the reasons why this person acted this way, why this one event happened, and so on. It’s one of the reasons why the scriptures are so great. I love reading how one person lives their life, than those choices have consequences that echo through generations. In the Old Testament there is the well-known story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons. In this story, I have always wondered about Leah and Rachel, Jacob’s wives. The emotions and hardships of that relationship must have been intense, enough to cause consequences for generations.
The Eleventh Brother by Rachel K. Wilcox is a beautiful novel that looks into Joseph of Egypt’s story. Ms. Wilcox writes a story that examines how the choices of parents can affect their children and how children can choose differently. She examines the emotion and turmoil that might of happened between Joseph and his brothers. Wilcox must have done a lot of research as well has explored the land that she has written in such detail about.
The book starts out closer to the end of the story and backtracks through flashbacks and memories. It humanizes the people we read about in the bible and helps us realize that there was more to their actions that what we know. Joseph’s life was a hard one, but he was able to overcome it and become more. The story also looks into how Joseph’s brothers handled their actions (mostly just Judah). Of course the book is fiction, but it is based in so much fact, it’s hard not to believe it really happened.
The thing that I felt the book was lacking was Joseph’s testimony. Judah had expressed his lack of feelings towards God after the choices he made and the things that had happened in his family. Joseph in the book seemed to lack faith and belief in God, the god of his fathers, through the story. At the end Jehovah is brought into the picture, but I have always felt for Joseph to survive and thrive he had to have immense faith in God and trust in Him. However, the book looked a lot at the gods of Egypt and even had Joseph thinking a lot about them over God. I wished that Wilcox would have had more of God’s hand and Joseph’s testimony in the story.
The focus on Joseph’s feelings towards his brothers in the book showed how conflicted he felt towards them. The emotions are understandable; it would be easy to hate the people who tried to kill you. It is a serious book that is drenched in facts about the culture of both Egypt and the Canaanites. The book explains birthright better, forgiveness better, and redemption better. It is a beautiful read and will make you want to read Genesis.
It was interesting to see Joseph’s relationship with the women in the story. He has many conversations about the value of a woman in those times. Women based their worth and success on how many children they could have. I was surprised at how acceptable it was for a husband to use another woman to have children, but the children would be credited to the wife. It was hard to fathom. Joseph also reflected on his mother and the price of becoming a mother.
I found myself pondering my own miracles and blessings from Heavenly Father in my family and my life. My love for my Heavenly Father, as well as my desire to know Him better has grown from this book. I feel that I value my life in this time much more than what my life would have been in a different time.
Even though religion or belief in God isn’t as strong in this story, the one of forgiveness and redemption is and anyone can relate to the need to be redeemed. The characters are done very well, the cultures are well researched, and it puts things in a new perspective. The book is very clean and is uplifting. There is low risk for having this book influence your mood in a negative way. I encourage anyone, religious or not to read it.