Please join me in welcoming one of my very favorite people back to the blog today – Mesu Andrews is here to chat about her new novel Isaiah’s Legacy which releases today! Happy release day, Mesu!! ♥
MESU ANDREWS is the Christy Award-winning author of Isaiah’s Daughter and numerous other novels, including The Pharaoh’s Daughter, Miriam, Of Fire and Lions and Love Amid the Ashes. Her deep understanding of and love for God’s Word brings the biblical world alive for readers. Mesu lives in North Carolina with her husband, Roy, and enjoys spending time with her growing tribe of grandchildren.
SERIES: Prophets & Kings #3
GENRE: Inspirational Biblical/Historical Fiction
RELEASE DATE: February 18, 2020
The drama of the Old Testament comes to life as Judah’s most notorious king ascends to the throne in this gripping novel from the award-winning author of Isaiah’s Daughter.
At eight years old, Shulle has known only life in a small village with her loving but peculiar father. When Uncle Shebna offers shelter in Jerusalem in exchange for Shulle’s help tutoring King Manasseh, Judah’s five-year-old co-regent who displays the same peculiarities as her father, she’s eager to experience the royal court. But Shulle soon realizes the limits of her father’s strict adherence to Yahweh’s Law when Uncle Shebna teaches her of the starry hosts and their power.
Convinced Judah must be freed from Yahweh’s chains, she begins the subtle swaying of young Manasseh, using her charm and skills on the boy no one else understands. When King Hezekiah dies, twelve-year-old Manasseh is thrust onto Judah’s throne, bitter at Yahweh and eager to marry the girl he adores. Assyria’s crown prince favors Manasseh and twists his brilliant mind toward cruelty, beginning Shulle’s long and harrowing journey to discover the Yahweh she’d never known, guided with loving wisdom by Manasseh’s mother: Isaiah’s daughter, the heartbroken Hephzibah. Amid Judah’s dark days, a desperate remnant emerges, claiming the Lord’s promise, “Though we’re helpless now, we’re never hopeless–because we serve El Shaddai.” Shulle is among them, a girl who becomes a queen through Isaiah’s legacy.
Hi dear Mesu! Welcome back to the blog!
Q: Congratulations on your new novel, Isaiah’s Legacy! Can you give us a quick overview of the book?
Mesu: Isaiah’s Legacy continues the story of Judah’s Queen Hephzibah (Zibah), who was the prophet Isaiah’s daughter according to Jewish tradition. Isaiah’s Legacy is a sequel to my first book in the Prophets & Kings Series, Isaiah’s Daughter, but it can also be read as a stand-alone since its focus is the life and loves of Queen Zibah’s son, Manasseh.
Described as Judah’s most wicked king, Manasseh knew from his earliest memory that his father, King Hezekiah, would die—according to his grandfather Isaiah’s prophecy. Manasseh witnesses his abba’s death and is thrust onto Judah’s throne where his infatuation with a girl named Shulle transforms her from a poor maiden to his queen. Under the influence of her wicked uncle, Shebna, Shulle introduces palace intrigues and stirs ancient vendettas that pit pagan advisors against faithful Yahwists. Darkness marches forward, gaining momentum and threatening to snuff out the last flicker of Yahweh’s spark in Judah. But in a sudden twist of fate, Manasseh faces a darker path than his pagan gods can travel and finds only Yahweh waiting at the end of himself. It’s there—in a deep, dark pit—that I found Manasseh’s story to be the most phenomenal prodigal tale in Scripture. His redemption still gives me chills!
Carrie: It does me, too! I’ve always been drawn to this biblical account.
Q: As you mentioned, Isaiah’s Legacy is a follow-up to your 2018 novel, Isaiah’s Daughter. Why did you decide to explore the story of Isaiah and his family, and what do you love most about it?
Mesu: It wasn’t really Isaiah I wanted to write about. It was Hephzibah, his daughter, that intrigued me with her name! Growing up with Mesu, I pay attention to interesting names and discovered that Hephzibah means, “the Lord’s delight.” I wanted to be a Hephzibah—a delight to my God! I began studying her and found it interesting that Yahweh’s prophet would give his daughter in marriage to King Hezekiah—the king many believe Isaiah thought was the messiah in his prophecies.
Of course, a few years into Hezekiah’s reign, Isaiah would have realized he was a good man but not the messiah. Bummer, right? We’ve given our daughters to two wonderful guys, but I knew from the start neither was the perfect messiah! I thought it intriguing to write a story exploring the family dynamic of Isaiah’s high hopes for Hezekiah, giving of his daughter in marriage, and then the dashed hopes when he realized his son-in-law was just a man.
However, the thing I loved most about this story was also the thing that twisted my heart into knots. Hephzibah was the wife of Hezekiah, the most righteous king of Judah, but she was the mother of Manasseh…the most wicked king of Judah. How did she remain “the Lord’s delight” while watching her son worship false gods and destroy everything she and Hezi believed in? Both our daughters lived as prodigals at the time I first researched Hephzibah’s story, and I needed to know how a mother’s heart could survive.
Carrie: I love how you’re able to take an ancient account & see the relevance for your own life & heart. Proof that the Word of God is alive and active!
Q: Which scene in the book did you most enjoy writing and/or researching, and what were some of your sources?
Mesu: The scene I most enjoyed writing and the most enjoyable research are actually two different things. The scene I most enjoyed writing—and actually sent me to my knees weeping—was in chapter fifty-six. Because it’s near the end, I won’t spoil it for our readers, but it’s the scene that gave me the idea for our “Live Unchained” theme for the book. Shulle encounters Yahweh in a powerful way that changes her to the core, and I found myself desiring that same kind of change—to live unchained by fear, others’ approval, or a need to control.
My best research guide (not necessarily favorite since the content was rather dark) had to be Melothesia in Babylonia by DeGruyter which included “Medicine, Magic, and Astrology” from ancient Mesopotamia. It was both fascinating and disconcerting, and I called on my prayer teams for heavy support while doing this research.
Carrie: Reading this answer, I just want to reach across the miles and give you a big hug! Thank you for investing so deeply in what you write – and for bathing what you write & research in prayer.
Q: You’ve recently been sharing about your plan to visit Israel shortly after the release of Isaiah’s Legacy. Do you plan to visit any of the sites described in the book? (I mean… how could you not?? lol)
Mesu: Absolutely! We’ll begin our tour along the Mediterranean Sea coast and eventually make our way down to Jerusalem, where we’ll spend several days. When my hubby and I visited Israel twenty years ago, archaeologists had just uncovered the City of David but weren’t allowing tours yet. I’m really excited to add that to our list of locations in 2020! We’ll also get to see Hezekiah’s Tunnel, which is discussed in detail in Isaiah’s Daughter. The Western Wall of the Temple (the one from Jesus’ day, not Manasseh’s) is still standing, and we’ll get to spend some time in prayer beside that ancient sacred site. I’ll be doing lots of FB Live segments during the tour from March 6th – 19th! Be sure to check my author page for updates (https://www.facebook.com/MesuAndrews/).
Carrie: What an amazing trip that will be – especially given the books you’ve written since the last time you were there! On my bucket list some day 🙂
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Mesu:The project sticks with my brand of a well-known Old Testament male character with a lesser-known female. Not sure yet if it will be two or three books on…drum roll…Joseph! I LOVE Joseph, and I’d love to explore some of the women in his life: his sister-mothers: Rachel and Leah; his only sister, Dinah; Potiphar’s Wife, Zelicha; and Joseph’s Egyptian wife, Asenath.
Carrie: YAY!! I can’t wait!!!
WaterBrook is offering a print copy of Isaiah’s Legacy to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What interests you most about Isaiah’s Legacy by Mesu Andrews?