And So It Was Written: Ellen Brazer
Within the pages of this complex novel there are man different voices and stories that are told. Each character striving to be heard in their own way and each one sending a different message of hope, hate, deceit, power, greed, destruction, love, trust and honesty within their own capacity to show any human emotion. Masabala and Livel are brothers and one incident would cause both of their lives to change. When Livel becomes injured and Masabala needs to leave him to get help the danger that ensues would change Livel forever as he is kidnapped, captured and becomes slave of the Romans. Beaten, tortured and watching so many others die, Livel’s spirit never wanes and his true fate is marked when arriving at this destination.
Masabala cannot reconcile that his brother is gone or missing and he no longer can contain himself as his father the great Rabbi Eliazar accepts what happens and does not move heaven and earth to find his lost son. The time period is one that is highly volatile and the year is 132 CE when the Third Temple is being constructed and the Ark of Covenant housing the Ten Commandments is found.
Livel arrives and becomes the slave of a powerful man and soon learns that he is to be the teacher of his two sons. Both hating him at first sight and not wanting any part of what he has to offer them, does not stop them from tormenting him at first but learning his father’s requirements for being appointed Lead Consul means that both brothers would have to do what they were told in order to come out on top. Bar Kokhba has managed to beat and defeat the Roman Army is about to regroup and decide how things will be run. But, not before Masabala becomes a soldier so bent on proving himself that he loses sight of everything else.
Four young men each striving to become something they are not: Masabala a soldier and warrior and not able to forgive what he did on the battlefield buries himself in his anger and seeks revenge at every turn. Livel becomes the apprentice you might say of a great doctor and although his daughter resents him from the start, he becomes more than just his student. Scipio the younger of the Roman sons takes to Livel and his teachings and is determined to beat his brother at all costs as he and Livel form a bond that cannot be broken. Becoming a doctor is what Livel wants and his goal was to win the hand of the doctor’s daughter. But, fate changes it all and the end result will surprise readers. Two sets of brothers: Roman and Jewish different in religious beliefs and yet the same in others. Revenge, friendship, loyalties and trust intersect as the seeds of hope, love and success are planted but families are tested, love is torn apart and the injustices of war often win out. When Masabala is chosen to find the Ark of Covenant his initial reaction is refusal until convinced otherwise.
Four people fighting for survival and what they wanted but in different yet the same ways. Four brothers three forced to bond and work together and one whose freedom would cost him more than he would realize. Asked to continue Dr. Galen’s work and keep his school for young doctors working until a suitable replacement can be found, Livel honors his wishes enough though it’s not what he really wants. With all that the doctor taught him and now linked with his daughter also secretly trained they venture into the Jewish Quarter and do more than just give hope, courage and save lives. But, when the Emperor of Rome calls the doctor back and is suspicious of those living there will Livel turn his back on his own people or will he continue to go there despite the danger? While Arria’s wedding is planned within a short time and her true calling will be placed not on hold but forever silenced, will she continue on her quest to marry or will she realize what and who is right in front of her?
When Masabala finds where the Ark has been placed something happens that will change his perspective and perception of the man claiming to be the Messiah. Why would he not want to be in the presence of the Ark? Why did he appear afraid and why does Masabala think him to be a fraud? As he and his father enter the cave what happens is great supernatural as the become engulfed in a light, the spirit and feel the presence of God.
Domitius was to be Arria’s husband and learning more about him would be her downfall. Arrogant, headstrong and domineering plus dangerous filled with hate and deceit, he would lure her into his bed and then destroy her at whim. While every man in the kingdom was the subject of Hadrian the Emperor it was unusual that he would free one in order to have Galen as his personal doctor. The story unfolds differently from this point on as we learn more about Livel, how he becomes a Roman citizen, yet never forgetting his heritage. While Doctor Galen struggled with his own fate and the fact that he had to leave his child, Bar Kokhba summoned Masabala and his fate was sealed. It would be his mob to enter the cave along with his father and seal the entrance making sure that the Ark was safe until the Third Temple was built. Rabbi Akiva spoke and as he did he placed a trembling hand on Bar Kokhba and many clapped and shouted as he was declared the Messiah or deliver but was he really? Masabala learned from him and the elders the ways to organize, “ self-rule, establish a new government, and implement guidelines for taxation.” Imagining throughout the discussion the presence of The Third Temple and what Bar Kokhba would say to him. Explaining how their money would be devised and the symbols that would be used what he relates next would determine his fate. Explaining that in “Each generation only three men were entrusted with the knowledge,’’ to know where the Art was. One lived within Judea and the other two outside the borders. His father was the keeper of his generation. Revealing or showing Masabala the ancient parchment and the words: And you have been the one chosen for that task, to find the tablets that hold God’s sacred writings.” Imagine how he felt and why he did not respond in kind at first. But, Masabala had no choice and the words of Bar Kokhba were strong as he was told that his leadership abilities and his devotion to the cause will lead their people and it would be him that will bring the Art of the Covenant to the light.
When the location is found and Masabala states that the Ten Commandments were found what they learn is devastating as some of his men remained in the cave and lives were lost. “Only a Kohen may approach the Ark!” It is his job to approach the Ark, go in and find the men but he forgot one important point and that is to “Formulate a plan for what has to be done once the Ten Commandments were found. A born leader he takes control and then things are about to change for everyone as Masabala has a vision about his brother and when he returns the family is once again reunited but for how long?
Destinies are changed as the family is forced to leave their home as Judea comes under fire and the prophecy that Jerusalem will fall comes to pass. Removing the bodies and shrouding them was quite somber and realizing that war was inevitable their fate. But, first Livel and Arria come to a conclusion that no one expected as they decide to unite, she did not want to leave him and hopefully his family would accept her.
A war that would end and the hope of a nation shattered as both Domitius and Scipio will fight to the finish and Livel might just be one of the victims. The Hebrew blessings bring back memories of attending services with my grandfather and observing the Sabbath with him and my grandmother. Rabbi Eleazar focused and changed as he prepares to enter the cave, places the garments on in the correct order and reminding himself that Livel is his blood and although he was away for so long he is still a Kohen. While the war begins and many casualties arise both Livel and Arria working together save so many as the author brings to light the union of two people of two different backgrounds who learned to love and respect each other and their ways. With Arria’s guidance and help a young child’s life is saved as we learn of the medical advances that Dr. Galen left with Livel and the teachings that he imparted on others. When you read chapter 39 and listen to The Kohen Gadol’s words tears came to my eyes as I am sure they will yours as Eleazar sees the Ark and the tunnel where the Tablets were hidden. What is their final fate? What will happen to the tablets? A battle that will pit brother against brother? A vendetta that comes full circle and a friendship that binds two different men. Sarah, Masabala’s wife endures more than most would survive and never ever failing in her loyalty and trust in her husband and his family. An ending that will bring it all to a close and a family that is torn apart by war and two brothers who learn the true meaning of deceit, hate, revenge while two others and closes his eyes and is at peace.
The story of two sets of brothers whose differences are many and yet they are the same. Each fighting for their beliefs and one fighting for what you might say is supremacy. An ending that is heartbreaking and the fate and hope of the Jewish people is still tenuous today. What happened to the Ark of the Covenant and the Ten commandments? Find out when you read the startling epilogue. Well researched. A compelling, thought provoking and mystery filled story with twists and turns you just won’t expect and a young woman whose determination to become something she was told she could not be and a young man who believed in her. Sarah and Masabala, Livel and Arria: Well crafted and vividly depicted story of two families that came together And So It Was Written:
Let’s dedicate this to all those who lost their lives fighting for peace and understanding. בואו נקדיש את זהלכל מי שאיבד את חייהם נלחמים על שלום והבנה .
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews