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Prepare yourselves, reader friends! Our author friend Connilyn Cossette is leading us to the Promised Land, literally, we’re talking about Israel! PLUS she is also sharing a giveaway of her latest release!
A Light on the Hill opens in Shiloh, Israel, where the Tabernacle was located for hundreds of years until King David moved the Ark to Jerusalem. Shiloh is in a protected valley with hills all around. Although the area is fairly barren now due to deforestation over thousands of years, it would have been a fertile area and a wonderful place for Moriyah’s father’s vineyard. In fact, there is celebrated wine still produced around that area.
The story also takes the reader to Meggido which lays at the center of the Jezreel Valley, (the famed Valley of Armageddon) which I had the pleasure of visiting recently. Standing atop Tel Megiddo and gazing down into thousands of years of layers of history was one of the coolest parts of my trip—not to mention imagining my fictional friends walking across those ancient cobblestones.
A Light on the Hill will also travel to Kedesh, which was a walled city of refuge north of the Sea of Galilee that sits near the beautiful Hula Valley. This is a lovely, fertile area that is a crossroads for many migratory birds with the three-peaked Mt. Hermon lording over the horizon in white-headed glory.
What inspired you to choose this setting for A Light on the Hill?
Connilyn: After years of war (post Wings of the Wind), the Israelites were beginning to settle into the Promised Land. Shiloh was the place chosen to house the Tabernacle, so it would have been the center of life for the people who’d finally come into their inheritance, much as Jerusalem was/is after King David moved the Ark from Shiloh hundreds of years later.
Although a couple of the tribes had already claimed their share, the remaining tribes were still waiting around until the land was surveyed before moving to their new homes. So Shiloh was the logical place to put Moriyah and the vineyard she’s come to love.
And without revealing any spoilers, the story will take readers on a journey to one (or more) of the Cities of Refuge, which were six cities set aside for those accused of manslaughter to flee to in order to plead for mercy. They were spread all over Israel so that one could theoretically travel to the closest refuge city within a day’s walk (but of course we aren’t going to make things quite so easy for our fictional friends….????)
Beth: I love getting this in depth look at the culture of that period. It’s one of those areas that I tend to glance over.
What kind of research did you do on Israel?
Connilyn: Before December I had to rely on lots of pictures from the internet, as well as Google Earth to explore these settings. There is such a wealth of information there, I seriously don’t know how writers did it pre-internet! But in December I traveled with fellow author Cliff Graham on his Good Battle Tour and actually got to see a few of the places in this book, and in the upcoming ones, with my own eyes, which was beyond wonderful. I was actually pleasantly surprised that the areas I described in A Light on the Hill were quite similar to how I saw them in my mind!
Beth: You describe them so vividly in the story, I feel like I’ve been there too!
What is something most people don’t know about the Cities of Refuge?
Connilyn: I think a lot of people are pretty unfamiliar with the Cities of Refuge in general. I know I was pretty ignorant as to their purpose and importance. But as I studied the law regarding these places where someone could flee if they accidentally killed someone, I was struck by the similarity to the work Jesus did on the cross.
Just imagine: a place to take refuge after you have sinned egregiously and be shielded from the Blood Avenger who is lawfully allowed to take your life, a place where you can plead mercy and be protected until the High Priest dies; after which you can return to your home with no more condemnation, just as if it never happened at all….
See what a beautiful shadow the Cities of Refuge are of our Messiah? The cities were surrounded by high, thick walls and a boundary of 2000 cubits was eventually marked all around. It was like baseball—if you made it past that boundary line, you were safe!
Beth: What a beautiful reflection of God’s grace!
What is the best time of year in Israel?
Connilyn: Since I’ve only been to Israel in the winter I’d have to guess that spring would most likely be gorgeous in these areas. Even in December there were flowers blooming everywhere, beautiful tall trees in the north, and thousands of palm and fruit groves all over the country—I can only imagine what it would be like when the Land is in full bloom. You can truly see prophecy fulfilled in the way the Land has been brought back to life by the Israelis over the last 70 years. In the Hula Valley a reported 500 million birds migrate through in the late fall so that must be a very cool time to visit that area for birdwatching purposes. (We even saw green African parrots hanging out by the Sea of Galilee making a bunch of noise in the treetops on the Mount of Beatitudes).
Beth: I am guessing summer would be uncomfortably hot! We try to travel north in the summertime!
If readers want to visit Israel, what advice would you give them?
Connilyn: My advice is GO! Seeing the land of the Bible is an experience like no other. I will never read the Word the same way again after seeing it with my own eyes. And I felt absolutely and completely safe, even though I went right after the Embassy announcement and while there was some turmoil in Gaza and West Bank.
Life just goes on for the people there, even though the media super over-exaggerates and makes it look like the whole place is going crazy, instead of just tiny pockets nowhere near any tourist areas. The cultural mix, along with the contrasts between the various heritages that make up modern Israel, is fascinating and I wish I could have stayed three more weeks, just to people watch and absorb it all. I can’t wait to go back.
Beth: Thank you for sharing what you learned and experienced in Israel with us, Connilyn!
about the book
Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.
Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.
about the author
Connilyn Cossette is the CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series from Bethany House Publishers. There is not much she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible, discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus, and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience.
Out of Egypt series
Connilyn Cossette has generously provided a paperback copy of A Light on the Hill for one Faithfully Bookish reader!
paperback US only
complete giveaway rules
Have YOU visited Israel, reader friends?
Would you like to?