Bethlehem’s Brothers
by Ronald Hera

"And is this gift for gentiles and well as the Jews?"

Nine-year-old Simeon and six-year-old Enoch and their mother, Esther, survive the first-century AD Massacre of the Innocents in this young adult historical suspense novel, the first of a trilogy. The boys’ youngest brother and their father are brutally murdered by Roman soldiers in the surprise nighttime mission. This horrific execution of all male children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem, as ordered by King Herod of Judea, is a measure meant to destroy Jesus, later known as Jesus of Nazareth, the long-prophesied Jewish Messiah.

Forced by fate to survive in a patriarchal world of simmering religious and cultural clashes, Esther must move through her grief and haunting memories quickly to find suitable apprenticeships for her sons because she cannot support them in Bethlehem without their father. Simeon is apprenticed to a former rabbi, now a potter in Jerusalem. Esther accompanies Enoch north, to Galilee, so he can learn the fishing trade with her brother-in-law, Lamech. As the boys’ lives progress into manhood, there are sorrows and joys ahead as they seek out and witness the miracles of the prophet Jesus.

This adventurous tale meanders through a well-researched series of historical events recounted from the personal viewpoints of both historical and fictional figures. The characters are well-rounded and engaging, and their development is realistic. The many biblical stories in the novel are brought to vivid life. The down-to-earth prose flows smoothly, and the web paragraph format has room for notes if readers are interested in jotting down related Bible verses or other information. The novel could be used in classrooms as a companion for history or humanities studies and will enlighten young Bible study readers interested in understanding the mystery of the man known as Messiah and Savior.

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