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In an oasis in the windswept deserts of Arabia, the city of Yathrib sits nestled among date palm groves and verdant fields, affording Jew and Arab alike a lifestyle of tranquil prosperity. Here, the Jew with his one G-d coexists peacefully with the Arab and his idols - until Arab tribal conflict threatens to turn the desert red with blood.
Azariah flees for his life, finding his way to Palestina. Yet the Holy Land is far from an ideal place of refuge in these tumultuous times. The Jews there are under the subjugation of Byzantine Christian rulers, who have placed cruel restrictions on their religious observance. When conflict between the Byzantine Romans and the rising Persian Empire finally erupts, the Jews are almost certain to rebel.
Avraham, a young man from the isolated village of Susya in southern Palestina, yearns for freedom and is inspired to join his people in the battle for a Jewish Jerusalem. But he will not abandon Mattias, the friend of his youth, almost lost to Judaism in a home where currying favor with the Christian authorities outweighs all other considerations.
The plot moves rapidly between the colorful caravans and marketplaces of Yathrib, the assimilated Jews of Scythopolis, and the devoted Jews of Susya. In this breathtaking work of historical fiction, accomplished author B. Sasson Tawil paints a masterful picture of Jews caught in the crossfire during a period of history that is largely unknown to us today.
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