Synopsis and Contents
In ancient Judaea, a prophet who has lost her memory channels the voices of people from the Hebrew Bible. Seeking to rediscover her true self, Elisheva discovers the unexpected nature of God.
In a timeless, sealed room, an angel prompts Elisheva, who has no memory of herself, to let the voices of others speak through her.
Part I: THE BOOK OF BEGINNING
From the creation of the world to the aftermath of the Great Flood.
- ADAM: As Eden disappears from around them, the Snake shows Adam their species' future, and teaches him to use language to experience and influence the world.
- THE WIFE OF CAIN: Created by the power of texts that speak of her, a mysterious woman bears Cain's child, and teaches Cain how to raise a son effectively.
- JAPHETH: After the flood, Noah's son Japheth rescues a trapped angel. Both loved the same woman, who rose to heaven and became a constellation.
- INTERLUDE 1: Elisheva describes the room and her life in it, the sensations of speaking the voices, and her need to discover what her life had been.
Part II: THE BOOK OF BECOMING
The life of Abraham and the beginning of belief in God.
- TERAH: Abraham's father repairs an idol that his son damaged. He decries Abraham's rejection of their fathers' gods and embrace of a single nameless god.
- LOT: Abraham's nephew, Lot, meets Orpheus. Each is mourning his wife, who was lost when the husband or wife looked back while fleeing places of death.
- MOAB: The son of Lot and Lot's daughter yearns to find his father and be closer to his grandfather, not realizing that Lot is both.
- ABRAHAM: In rescinding his command requiring Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, God passes Abraham's test. Abraham declares, "This is a god that I can love."
- SARAH: A stranger from the future, Miriam, convinces Abraham's wife, Sarah, to step outside of time to join the school of prophets that bears her name.
- INTERLUDE 2: Elisheva discovers memories of Aspaklarya, who also had no voice of her own, but could remember and repeat everything that she had ever heard.
Part III: THE BOOK OF BELONGING
The family of Jacob and their descent to Egypt.
- ISAAC: The aged Isaac senses that Jacob is plotting to steal the blessing intended for Esau, but, always passive, chooses to assume that nothing is wrong.
- JACOB: Inside a dream, Jacob sees his real life as a metaphor, and is convinced to accept the compassionate embrace of his returning brother Esau.
- JUDAH: Jacob's son Judah, guilty about selling his brother Joseph as a slave, leaves his father's home to try to start a new life.
- BENJAMIN: Jacob's youngest son, Benjamin, senses the contradictions in his brothers' tales about Joseph's supposed death, and yearns to escape his family's control.
- JOSEPH: Seeing all the paths and stories of his myriad possible lives, Joseph discovers what he must do when his brothers unknowingly meet him in Egypt.
- INTERLUDE 3: Exploring the texts and patterns that cover the surfaces of her room, Elisheva remembers the one time that Aspaklarya gave a hint of her past.
Part IV: THE BOOK OF EMERGING
The exodus from Egypt and the passage back to the promised land.
- MOSES: At the burning bush, Moses has a vision of his mother encouraging him to lead the slaves to a future where everyone knows their true names.
- PHARAOH (OF THE EXODUS): The king of Egypt announces to his people that he will stand up to the terrorist attacks from the rebelling slaves and their nameless god.
- AARON: Moses's brother Aaron, the high priest, decides to challenge God after his sons are killed for mishandling a sacrifice.
- SIHON: When the Israelites wish to pass through a desert kingdom, the king attacks them against his better judgment because God has hardened his heart.
- MIRIAM: A reflection of Miriam's face in a sacred well convinces her to jump into it and fall into her future, founding the school outside of time.
- SERACH: Moses dies, in the company of a 400-year old harpist, and liberates the souls of the Israelites who have died in the desert.
- INTERLUDE 4: Elisheva remembers being one of the Sisters of Sarah, and how, when the Second Temple was destroyed, the magic that maintained the school came to an end.
Part V: THE BOOK OF DWELLING
The tribes form into a nation.
- GIDEON: When God asks an unlikely leader to lead an unlikely military manouver, the leader timidly asks God for a miracle as proof.
- JEPHTHAH'S DAUGHTER: Condemned to death by her father's vow, a girl is rescued by a magical ram, and begins her training at the school of prophets.
- SAMUEL: Before a futile battle, King Saul orders a miracle worker to summon the soul of Samuel, his long-dead teacher.
- INTERLUDE 5: Elisheva asks the angel about the nature of memory and forgetting. The angel remains silent.
Part VI: THE BOOK OF SINGING
The family of King David and the creation of Solomon's temple.
- DAVID: The next king of Israel confronts his oldest son, Amnon, who has raped his youngest daughter.
- ZADOK: As David flees his son Absalom's rebellion, angels within the Ark show their guardian, the High Priest Zadok, hopeful visions of reconciliation.
- THE SHULAMMITE: A young girl visits her aunt, the Queen of Sheba, who tells her to marry for love, not power, and that she will be protected.
- NATHAN: David's least ambitious son leaves to become a teacher and learns that the family line will continue through his own children.
- SOLOMON: Shown that his beloved Shulammite loves another man, King Solomon allows them to marry, and transcribes their thoughts as a gift: The Song of Songs.
- ASAPH: A gentle teacher shows a fearful, stuttering man that he is eloquent when he sings. He goes on to compose many of the Psalms.
- INTERLUDE 6: In wordlessly singing the one note that the Sisters of Sarah ritually sang, Elisheva discovers how she and Aspaklarya complemented each other.
Part VII: THE BOOK OF STRUGGLING
The nation begins to unravel as people resume worshiping other gods.
- JEROBOAM: A populist leader rebels against Solomon's cruel son, and declares a new, more open nation, which welcomes those who worship other gods.
- JONAH: Compelled to leave all that he loves, an unwilling prophet prepares to travel to an evil city and dreams of returning to his quiet life.
- ZIMRI: One week after his coronation, a betrayed king drinks himself into unconsciousness as his palace burns around him.
- AHAB: The king of Israel comforts Jezebel, his wife, Jezebel, on the night before her priests confront the prophet Elijah. She fears that, without believers, her god will die.
- ELIJAH: After a discontinuous life of confusion and suffering, Elijah, leaving our world in a fiery chariot, learns that he is really a mighty angel.
- INTERLUDE 7: After hearing Elijah's voice, the angel, weeping, breaks his silence. Knowing everything that has happened and will happen, he envies those who can forget.
Part VIII: THE BOOK OF DISSOLVING
The nation is torn apart and conquered, and the Temple is destroyed.
- HAZAEL: A weeping prophet shows an Assyrian general that he will conquer and destroy Israel, but, doing so, will save Israel from an even worse fate.
- JEHU: Unexpectedly anointed king of Israel, a general kills everyone in his path who will not get behind him and takes control of the palace.
- ASA: The king of Judah regretfully exiles his mother after she builds a shrine for the goddess Asherah.
- HEZEKIAH: Another king of Judah destroys a bronze serpent and an Asherah tree on the Temple grounds, remembering how he had played in their shade as a child.
- JEREMIAH: When a boy is driven insane by God's thrusting prophecy on him, the school of prophets rescues him and restores him to health.
- JEHOIAKIM: A disdainful king derides Jeremiah's prophecies and burns his scrolls.
- PHARAOH HOPHRA: A Pharaoh who has failed at everything attempts to drown himself in his beloved Nile river, but is rescued, as always, by a devoted servant.
- ZEDEKIAH: The last king of Israel, blinded and trapped alone in a Babylonian prison, finds peace by cherishing his remaining senses and his memories.
- SERAIAH: As the Temple burns, the angels within the Ark show the High Priest how he can worship without them and how their teachings can survive.
- EZEKIEL: The lowest of the priests loses his humanity when oppressed by those around him and by God's visions and commands.
- INTERLUDE 8: Miriam and the angel helped Aspaklarya and Elisheva to begin healing. Their souls brought together, Elisheva began to remember, and Aspaklarya began to forget.
Part IX: THE BOOK OF RETURNING
The people return to their land, and the Temple is rebuilt.
- SHADRACH: When three men are forced into a furnace within a giant idol, it melts, praises God, and, saving the victims, destroys those who made it.
- BELSHAZZAR: Handwriting on a wall triggers memories of a child's song, and forces the king of Babylon to face his past wrongs and his imminent death.
- DARIUS: Returning the Jews to their land, an emperor prays to be remembered as having increased the amount of order in the world.
- HAGGAI: When, rather than just demanding that people rebuild the temple, a prophet starts rebuilding it himself, unexpected help appears.
- JUSHAB-HESED: A little boy witnesses miracles at the rededication of the temple.
- GOD: Looking back at the history of the world, God thanks humanity for helping him learn to be a better God.
Elisheva remembers how her story began. Finally ready to leave, she sees the room dissolve around her and falls into the infinity beyond our world.
How the book was written, a bibliography, and an invitation to join