Pillar of Fire; or, Israel in Bondage

The Pillar of Fire (Rare Collector's Series)

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: The Pillar of Fire: or, Israel in Bondage

Author: Joseph Holt Ingraham

Publisher: Lamplighter Publishing, republished in 2000

ISBN-13: 978-1584740247

ISBN-10: 1-58474-024-8

Related website: www.lamplighterpublishing.com (publisher)

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Reading level: Ages 12 and up

Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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     Ingraham, Joseph HoltPillar of Fire; or, Israel in Bondage (originally published in 1859; republished in 2000 by Lamplighter Publishing, a division of Cornerstone Family Ministries, P. O. Box 777, Waverly, PA  18471).  Recommended to us by our friends Steve and Kathy Mueller, who at one time were representatives for Lamplighter Publishing, this book is Biblical historical fiction in which the story of Moses and the Israelite exodus from Egyptian bondage is told through a series of letters, written primarily by Sesostris, Prince of Tyre, to his mother, Queen Epiphia of Phoenicia, while visiting in Egypt, and then forty years later, by Remeses his son to Sesostris while he too is visiting in Egypt after his father has succeeded to the throne.  Other than the fictional Prince of Tyre and the obvious “poetic license” needed to fill in the details of the novel, the plot is amazingly true to the Biblical account, with a couple of small exceptions.  I do disagree with the author’s assumption that Moses did not learn about his Hebrew heritage until he was around 35.  However, it is still a well-written and interesting novel.

     J. H. Ingraham (January 26, 1809 – December 18, 1860) was an American author and minister.  Born in 1809 at Portland, ME, he spent several years at sea on one of his grandfather’s vessels, and then worked as a teacher of languages in Mississippi, where he began writing. In 1835 he published The Southwest, by a Yankee. The next year Lafitte, the Pirate of the Gulf was issued.  Burton; or, The Sieges, a novel of Aaron Burr and Revolutionary Days, appeared in 1838. Novel followed novel in rapid succession so that by 1846 he had written eighty novels.   At Natchez, he married Mary Brooks; she was a cousin of Phillips Brooks, who wrote “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”  The couple had three daughters and a son.  In the 1840’s Ingraham published work in Arthur’s Magazine and became an Episcopal minister on March 7, 1852.  Under the pen-name of F. Clinton Barrington he wrote stories for popular publications like Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion.  At the age of 51, he died in 1860, at Holly Springs, MS, from an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound in the vestibule of his church.

     The Pillar of Fire, published just a year before Ingraham’s unfortunate and untimely death, was the third most popular book read in America the day after the Civil War. It is an eloquently-written, illustrative account of the Prince of Tyre during his visit to Egypt more than 3500 years ago. The author brings full color and inspiration to every page in this suspense-filled drama, including flashbacks which explain how Moses came to be raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  It is said to be one of the books that Cecil B. DeMille used as the basis for the plot of his epic film The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston as Moses.  We did this as a family read aloud, and many were the places where we were able to say, “Aha!  We know what is going to happen next.”  It is the first in the author’s Biblical trilogy, followed by The Throne of David and The Prince of the House of David. Everyone enjoyed it.  We have read other excellent Lamplighter reprints of Biblical historical fiction, such as Joel: A Boy of Galilee by Annie Fellows Johnston and Titus: A Comrade of the Cross and Stephen: A Soldier of the Cross both by Florence Morse Kingsley.

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