Nara is a young Philistine woman who has given up hope of ever finding a husband. No man will take a wife who towers head and shoulders above him. She lives in isolation with her father, until she is discovered by the Philistine priests. They betroth her to Goliath, to give him warrior sons. What happens when Nara’s fate collides with that of David, who is destined to face Goliath in combat, will forever transform how you experience this pivotal moment in the Bible... Boorstin re-imagines David’s dangerous path from shepherd to charismatic leader, interweaving his life not only with Nara’s, but with key Biblical characters including King Saul, and Saul’s daughter Michal, who will later become David’s wife. While faithful to the spirit of the Bible, Boorstin reads between the lines of the ancient narrative to bring immediacy, relevance and even greater meaning to the life of the young Israelite who would become the most beloved character in the Old Testament. David and the Philistine Woman combines exciting storytelling and rich characters to fashion an unforgettable epic.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
In the tradition of The Red Tent, David and the Philistine Woman (Top Hat Books; due Aug. 2017) is award-winning documentary filmmaker Paul Boorstin’s inspired reimagining of the ultimate narrative of good triumphing over evil — the clash of David and Goliath. Here, he adds Nara — a blacksmith’s daughter and the Philistine woman in the title — who is betrothed to Goliath because of her remarkable height and strength, and whose fate collides with David’s destiny. ~ , Detroit Jewish News
Are we turning into a nation of “Philistines?” Have we become a land of foul-mouthed oafs spewing twitter tantrums? Well, from what archaeologists have discovered about the original Philistines in the Bible, it looks like we’re giving those ancient Philistines a bum rap! I was surprised to learn that while Paul Boorstin was researching his gripping new novel, David and the Philistine Woman, the award-winning documentary filmmaker found that archaeology reveals the Philistines were a far cry from the image of uncouth Neanderthals they have been smeared with for the past 3,000 years.
Breathing to life the world of the Philistines and Israelites, Boorstin has thrust us into the turbulent ancient world in a powerful and inspirational novel that remains faithful to the spirit of the Biblical original, yet reads like a thriller.
First, to find out what the Philistines were really like, he pored over the latest archaeological research. It exploded the ancient myths. Boorstin explains, “In archaeological digs at sites such as Beth Shemesh and Ashkelon, in what is now Israel, artifacts have revealed that the Philistines in Goliath’s time were an advanced, civilized people. They were accomplished builders, skilled makers of wine and olive oil, and adept with the loom and the pottery kiln.”
Why then, I wondered, have the Philistines got such a terrible rep today? Boorstin smiles: “Because history is written by the victors, the Bible gives the Israelites the last word. Only in modern times has the truth come to light.”
I was interviewing Paul Boorstin in his living room in LA, which is filled with African masks and other rare artifacts collected in his years of exploring faraway places, from Timbuktu to the upper Amazon. Boorstin has made National Geographic TV documentaries about baboons in South Africa and big cats in India. He also wrote the definitive two-hour documentary on the Kennedy family that is shown on the History Channel each year on the anniversary of JFK’s death.
Boorstin believes that his documentary experience uniquely equipped him to write David and the Philistine Woman: “Working with camera crews around the world under difficult and sometimes risky conditions, I learned that what happens outside the narrow frame of the camera lens—both behind the scenes, and in the human heart—is usually more important than what finally appears on film or video.”
Starting with David, the most beloved character in the Old Testament, and his deadly clash with Goliath—only a few paragraphs in the Bible—he says, “I felt compelled to reimagine the towering personalities and fierce conflicts that raged at this crucial turning point in history.”
Through the fast-moving twists of the novel’s plot, we experience David’s dangerous journey from untested boy to dynamic leader. I was especially struck by the importance of women in Boorstin’s novel, even though they receive scant mention in the Biblical story.
“The role of women as a moral anchor in the Bible cannot be overstated,” he explains, “so it’s central to David and the Philistine Woman. Though that role was not as openly discussed in ancient times, the part played by strong women in those days was crucial. Like the women of today, they risked their lives for what they knew was right, whether or not they got the credit they deserved. The ‘Philistine Woman’ in my book’s title is betrothed to Goliath, and will herself be forced to make courageous choices that will ultimately help to shape David’s future.”
How have the experts reacted to his bold reimagining of an iconic story? I asked. Boorstin replied, “I was delighted when Rabbi David Wolpe, one of the world’s leading experts on David, enthusiastically endorsed my novel, as did Reza Aslan, CNN religion authority and New York Times best-selling author of Zealot: “The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”. My book is also a finalist in the 2017 Indie Book Awards.”
Boorstin’s novel, portraying young David’s struggle 3,000 years ago, holds a powerful message for us today: “Unlike Biblical figures such as Moses or Abraham, young David never witnesses a miracle, and he never hears God speak directly to him,” the author explains. “Now we, like David, face that same dilemma: We must do the right thing, but without the comfort of God whispering into our ear exactly what we must do. And yet, it is upon each of us to listen to our heart, as young David did, and do the right thing.”
Boorstin’s historical novel David and the Philistine Woman offers probing insights for these especially troubled times.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/author-paul-boorstin-gives-a-startling-new-twist-to_us_59164b81e4b0bd90f8e6a557 ~ Jim Calio, The Huffington Post
‘David and the Philistine Woman’ imagines the man behind the mythical King David
Nothing in the Bible is quite like the life story of King David, as told in the Book of Samuel, for its potent blend of politics and passion. It’s the stuff of both Shakespearean tragedy and tabloid scandal, which is exactly why David has attracted the attention of authors ranging from John Dryden to William Faulkner to Joseph Heller, among many more.
The latest writer to reimagine King David is Paul Boorstin, the Los Angeles-based documentary filmmaker whose debut historical novel, “David and the Philistine Woman” (Top Hat Books), is rooted in the biblical text and yet soars into the realm of imagination. Where the Bible is spare and suggestive, Boorstin is ornate and explicit. Indeed, his real accomplishment is to extract David from pious tradition — the “sweet singer of Israel,” God’s “beloved” and anointed king — and present him to us as a flesh-and-blood human being.
Young David, for example, has long been depicted in religious art with a lyre in his hand, the instrument with which he soothed the rage and lifted the depression of King Saul. Boorstin, however, allows us to enter David’s mind as he plucks the strings of his famous instrument and, in doing so, deftly reminds us of David’s humble origins as a shepherd.
“The taut strands of sheep sinew allowed David to sense what would take place before his eyes could see it or his ears could hear,” the author writes. “Sometimes there was a sweetness in the notes, like turtle-doves at dawn, which filled him with hope. At other times, the notes stung like thorns, announcing that a dust storm was brewing or that a pack of wolves had cornered a ram in a ravine.”
Thus does Boorstin echo biblical words and phrases while evoking the setting in which a real shepherd would have worked. When David comes upon a ewe about to give birth, he wonders: “Had the Almighty sent him a sign at last?” But he quickly breaks off his reverie and sets about the task of easing the delivery. “In that tense moment, David did not pray to the Almighty. There was no time for prayer. It was his way to act quickly and let the work of his hands serve as prayer enough. He hastily wiped the mucous from the lamb’s nostrils with his tunic, to make it easier for the creature to breathe.”
Still, Boorstin recognizes and honors the charisma that the biblical David possesses. He adopts the name given to David’s mother in the Talmud, Nitzevet — she is unnamed in the Bible — and depicts her as a doting Jewish mother who sees greatness in her son: “Moses they respected,” David’s mother is made to say by the author to her son, “but you the people will love.”
Among the wealth of stories that are told about David in the Bible, Boorstin singles out the mythic battle between David and Goliath. As it appears in the Book of Samuel, the incident seems like a fairy tale, but Boorstin boldly introduces new and wholly imaginary characters and exploits to the old Sunday school favorite. For example, he credits Nitzevet for giving young David his first slingshot and teaching him how to use it. “The lyre allows you to feel,” she tells him, “but the sling allows you to act.”
Much of the narrative, in fact, is pure invention. Boorstin imagines a woman named Nara, the daughter of a Philistine ironsmith who secretly initiates her into the skills and rituals of making weapons, a craft that is reserved for men alone. Nara, who is unusually tall, is singled out to marry Goliath, “a fitting match for him in her strength and stature” precisely because she possesses “a body created by the god Dagon to bring forth Goliath’s heirs.” And the author contrives an elaborate conspiracy between David and Nara, each of whom is assigned a crucial role in the life and death of Goliath that appears nowhere in the Bible.
Pious readers of the Bible may object to the liberties Boorstin has taken with the ancient text. But “David and the Philistine Woman,” like other post-biblical works of art and authorship, also can be approached as a kind of midrash, if only because it may send the attentive reader back to the family Bible to find out what actually is written there and what originates only in the author’s imagination. Entirely aside from such hermeneutics, Boorstin deserves praise for writing a novel so full of adventure, intrigue and passion that it stands entirely on its own as a great yarn.
JONATHAN KIRSCH, book editor of the Jewish Journal, is the author of “King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel.” ~ Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
This work of biblical fiction concentrates on the period of David's youth, from his days as a shepherd until his famous clash with Goliath. Based on chapter 17 of the first Book of Samuel, the novel provides imagined details about background, characters, and conversations that colorfully and creatively enhance the original text.
Paul Boorstin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and screenwriter with experience working for Discovery, History, and National Geographic. He brings his trained eye to the story of David before he becomes King of the Israelites, delving into David's strained relationships with his father and brothers, and difficult encounters with the unstable King Saul. His mother, who isn't mentioned in the Bible, has a large role here. We witness the tentative budding romance between David and Michal, daughter of King Saul and the hard-won friendship between David and Jonathan, the fearless warrior son of King Saul, who is next in line for the throne.
David the shepherd wanders alone, worshipping G-d through his kindness for the flock and attention to the rhythms of nature. He is belittled by his warrior brothers and by his pious father, who spends his days and nights praying alone. His mother, however, believes he is destined for greatness, so David isn't surprised when he is anointed secretly by the prophet Samuel. David constantly awaits to hear the voice of G-d but is disappointed again and again; instead he learns to follow his own heart and instincts to gain the high level of confidence needed for leadership.
Boorstin also places the biblical story within a broader religious landscape, highlighting four different types of worship prevalent at the time. The Israelites are forbidden graven images and believe in the invisible one G-d whose Ten Commandments are housed in the Ark of the Covenant and protected by priests. The Philistines worship Dagon, who is depicted in menacing graven images that necessitate the constant sacrifice of animals. A hidden society of hunted women believe in the female goddess Ashdoda, a beautiful idol whose tears became powerful stones when they fell to earth; women secretly pray to her for fertility and other blessings. There are Nubian traders who worship serpents, which are tattooed onto their skin.
Goliath is a singular giant warrior who leads the Philistines of Gath in their mortal fight against the Israelites. The Dagon priests search for a bride for Goliath, a woman who equals him in stature and strength to create an army of giants. Nara illegally forges excellent iron weapons for her father Ezel which the Philistines use against the Israelite's lesser weapons. Nara's development provides a backdrop for the ultimate battlefield meeting between David and Goliath.
In the vein of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, Anne Roiphe's Water from the Well, Rebecca Kohn’s The Gilded Chamber, and so many more, David and the Philistine Woman may engender enough curiosity to encourage the reader to go back the original texts of the Bible. This is just one more reason to devour this luscious novel and look forward to more smart, entertaining books by Paul Boorstin.
http://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/book/david-and-the-philistine-woman ~ Miriam Bradman Abrahams, The Jewish Book Council
I read this novel in 2 days. I thank Paul Boorstin for giving us strong women, Israelite and Philistine. This definitely fleshed out the David and Goliath story. Totally enjoyed this book. ~ Carol Fox, Netgalley
This beautifully imagined story of David and Goliath, based on the Bible story, brings historical and social realities of two clashing tribes Israelites and Philistines.
David is the youngest son of Jesse of Bethlehem. He doesn’t follow his brothers to war. Instead he becomes the shepherd of his father’s flock. A task which some may find shame in, but he feels pride instead, tenderly caring for the sheep. Until a prophet Samuel shows upon their door and announces the next Israelite king, after King Saul.
David's story is intertwined with Nara’s, who is a daughter of master blacksmith of the Philistine city of Gath. At the age of 16, she is chosen for an honor by the high priest. She doesn’t understand the meaning of his words at the time. Soon after, she gets married to Goliath, a giant warrior.
David’s and Nara’s search, of what is meaningful to each of them, puts them on the same path. At the end, two people from opposite tribes join in the same mission.
The story ends with the famous fight of David and Goliath.
The story is engrossing, bringing David’s caring nature, his search for meaning in life. When he feels lost, he goes back to what is most meaningful in his life – simplicity. ~ Annette Bukowiec, NetGalley
A powerful and inspirational novel that remains faithful to the spirit of the Biblical original, yet reads like a thriller. ~ Jim Calio, The Huffington Post
Both a wise reading and a wild reimagining of the Bible's most fascinating personalities and most memorable single clash. Philistines and Israelites, their gods and loves and struggles, spring to dramatic life in David and the Philistine Woman. ~ David Wolpe, America's Most Influential Rabbi, Newsweek Magazine
King David is revered by more than half the population of the planet, yet he has never been more real and knowable than he is in Boorstin's breathtaking novel. Here the man God called "Beloved" is utterly, unforgettably human. I couldn't put this book down. ~ Reza Aslan, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, and executive producer/host of CNN's Believer
In David and the Philistine Woman, Paul Boorstin creates a remarkable new kind of narrative voice, at once mythic and insightful. His radiant David is a rare hero who feels as relevant as tomorrow. ~ Bill Blakemore, ABC News Middle East Correspondent
A compelling account of the fierce struggle of rival gods and their followers. A major achievement, gripping and finely wrought. ~ Nicholas Clapp, author of Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen
Leave it to this documentary film maker to conceive this richly imagined story. Boorstin has created the page-turner that book clubs have been waiting for since The Red Tent. Storytelling at its best. ~ Judy Kancigor, Orange County Register columnist
Boorstin dazzles with razor-sharp insight as he focuses on characters who leap from the pages of history with rich and newly defined clarity. Be prepared for surprises at every turn. ~ Lionel Friedberg, New York Times bestselling author
With vibrant color, Paul Boorstin paints a wholly new portrait of one of the Bible's most enigmatic figures. David and the Philistine Woman is a welcome addition to the rich tradition of Jewish historical fiction. ~ Emily K. Alhadeff, editor of Jewish in Seattle Magazine
A page-turning, action-filled novel that is both harrowing and fulfilling. Boorstin's poetic prose reimagines a world so long ago it might as well be mythical, but which resonates with eternal human truths. ~ Mary F. Burns, author of Isaac and Ishmael
A stunning expansion of the Biblical tale of David. Boorstin vividly imagines an archaic world of ritual, intrigue and sacrifice. The writing is so gripping and intense you can smell the ancient cities of Gath and Gibeah. ~ Stephen Kitsakos, author of The Accidental Pilgrim
Paul Boorstin's David and the Philistine Woman is an exciting rendering of the Biblical story with compelling relevance for today. The dialogue sparkles with wit, and the ingeniously constructed plot leads to an unexpected and inspiring climax. ~ Joseph Schraibman, Professor of Jewish Studies, Washington University in St. Louis