cover image Prophet


Shulamith Hareven. North Point Press, $14.95 (98pp) ISBN 978-0-86547-423-9

As restless nomads wandering the Judean hills after Moses led them out of Egypt, the ancient Hebrews with their invisible, monotheistic god must have seemed strange to the idol-worshipping peoples surrounding them. So they are to Hivai, a Canaanite soothsayer who spends seven years in a Hebrew camp after his native city of Gibeon is besieged by nameless invaders. Hareven ( The Miracle Hater ) magically evokes the birth throes of the Jewish people through the eyes of this skeptical outsider for whom the old gods no longer work. In Gibeon, Hivai had slept with his teenage daughter and prophesied by reading human entrails; returning home, he discovers he has been branded a traitor and flees Gibeon again. Neither a Hebrew nor a Canaanite now, he befriends a mute urchin boy and carves out a lonely existence, bringing this short, poetic novel to a bittersweet close. (Apr.)