AD 878. Three mysterious figures board a Red Sea sailing vessel. Dressed as Muslims they are in fact, Jews, far away from their home in Babylon. They are on a secret mission to transport precious cargo, on behalf of a powerful Jewish banking family.
Adiva, clearly the leader, is accompanied by her brother and cousin. They seek the kind of adventure unavailable in their homeland. To their surprise, they are not the only passengers. Two Africans are aboard and they have their own reasons to keep to themselves.
Adiva first notices the darker skinned man with piercing blue eyes. The attraction is clearly mutual. She is particularly intrigued when she realizes that they speak a form of Hebrew– only known from the sacred texts— and not Aramaic, the lingua franca of her world. The answer is startling. Adiva’ s new friend, Eldad, explains: He is from the Hebrew tribe of Dan while Saul is from the neighboring tribe of Asher, both missing from history for well over a millennium.
Eldad set out from his people determined to unravel the mystery of an ancient book, written in a lost language, which purportedly tells his family’ s story back to the time of the Patriarch Abraham. Eldad’ s passion to uncover his distant past is matched only by his eagerness to know Adiva better and pursue the magnetism that develops between them.
A frightful storm threatens the objectives of both groups, wrecking the ship and marooning them all, with only a few dessert islands around to offer refuge. In a desperate fight for survival, Eldad and Adiva become separated, and while she risks herself attempting to escape from pirates and slavers, he must face cannibals, starvation, and captivity. A clever Jewish family provides the only glimmer of hope for Eldad to be redeemed and brought back to his people.
Eldad the Danite is known to us as a historical figure, but only in broad outlines. It was left up to the author, Allen Childs, to brilliantly imagine the details of his adventure, illuminating the rich world and complex cultures that surround Eldad and Adiva. When they reach Adiva’ s home, the center of the Jewish world in Baghdad, the rabbis there greet Eldad and his story with skepticism. He holds none of the rabbinic traditions that developed over time.
Can Eldad convince them that he is of the same origin as they— even if his tribe of Dan has been hidden and lost for well over a thousand years? And can he and Adiva find a way to join as one in marriage.
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